Saturday, 12 January 2008

Volcano To Erupt For England

The was a surprise in the world of rugby this week as Gloucester winger Lesley Vainikolo was selected by Brian Ashton for England's 6 nations squad.

Nicknamed The Volcano, Tongan-born Vainikolo made his name for the Super League's Bradford Bulls scoring 149 tries in 152 games. He has also represented New Zealand at Rugby League.

The 17 stone powerhouse then switched codes from League to Union joining Guinness Premiership leaders Gloucester two years after initially turning them down. In his 9 games so far he has averaged a try a game.

However, despite adapting so quickly, is the 28 year old is ready for the demands of the International game? Vainakolo had knee problems throughout his time in Yorkshire but has thus far not suffered any relapse at Gloucester.

Another problem for Vianikolo will be the instant comparisons to the unfortunate, injury-prone centre Andy Farrell - one of the more recent less than successful league-to-union converts - who himself has been dropped from the England squad following his indifferent showing at the recent World Cup.

The general feeling is that 'Big Les' - often compared to the legendary Jonah Lomu - should be eased into the team rather than people expecting miracles from the get-go. Bring him on late in the game as legs are tiring and allow his quick feet and power to punish the opposition. The man loves scoring tries and that's what winning matches is essentially all about.

Vainikolo's inclusion has been heralded in many quarters and should add something different to the England team. It will certainly make for interesting watching once the tournament kicks off next month.

The Volcano scoring 5 tries on his Rugby Union debut. Apologies for the quality...

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