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#ThursdayTales: Lesley Vainikolo

#ThursdayTales: Lesley Vainikolo
Lesley Vainikolo.

Nicknamed the ‘Volcano’, the Tongan-born colossus earnt hero status amongst the Rugby League and Rugby Union faithful across his glittering sporting career.

It was in Australia where Lesley Vainikolo first embarked on his journey to the top, representing the Canberra Raiders before truly making his name in the colours of English Rugby League powerhouse, Bradford Bulls. Vainikolo arguably became the most explosive and devastating finisher in Super League history scoring 149 tries in 152 appearances.

He joined Gloucester Rugby in time for the start of the 2007-08 season, with then Head Coach, Dean Ryan, hailing his signature as “one of the most exciting in the club’s history”.

If anybody was doubting the credentials of the cross-code winger, those whispers were silenced in spectacular fashion as the ‘Volcano’ scored five tries against Leeds Carnegie at Headingley on his Union debut.

Old but gold. 😳

Steamrolling our way into the new week like Lesley Vainikolo 🚂#MondayMotivation pic.twitter.com/5Pyeip5XQm

— Gloucester Rugby (at 🏡) (@gloucesterrugby) March 30, 2020

With Martin Johnson at the helm, Vainikolo found himself fast-tracked into the England national team having qualified through residency rules. His eagerly anticipated debut came against Wales at Twickenham in February 2008 and he went  on to win five caps in total for his adopted home nation.

His career at Gloucester Rugby saw him become a massively popular figure with the Kingsholm faithful and his impact is reflected by the 36 tries that he scored in 86 competitive starts, before moving on French side La Rochelle for the last hurrah of his career.

Keep an eye on our social media channels today as we reflect on the memorable moments of seeing Big Les in Cherry & White.
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