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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 March, 2005, 14:15 GMT
Bradford boost as Vainikolo stays
Bradford wing Lesley Vainikolo
Lesley Vainikolo has snubbed a move to rugby union by signing a new deal with Bradford that will keep him at Odsal until the end of the 2009 season.

The Bulls winger was thought to have been offered 200,000 a year to join Premiership side Gloucester.

But he decided to accept a four-year extension to his contract, which was due to run out at the end of 2005.

Vainikolo said he received "a very big offer" from Gloucester but decided to take less money and stay at Odsal.

Vainikolo, who joined the Bulls from Canberra Raiders three years ago, has scored 81 tries in 87 appearances, including a record 36 in the Super League regular season in 2004.

"Lesley is a world-class player and was in big demand from both union and league clubs," said Bradford coach Brian Noble.

"To manage to keep him in rugby league says a lot for the sport and also the Bradford Bulls.

"Les is very happy here and never wanted to leave so to have him on board and fully committed to the club for the next four years is tremendous.

It would have been disastrous if I had gone and not enjoyed it because there would have been no coming back here
Lesley Vainikolo
"He will be 29 when his new contract expires and I think he will improve even more over the next four years."

The announcement will also be good news for the Kiwis ahead of the end-of-season Tri-Nations Series.

Vainikolo has scored 14 tries in 12 Test appearances, including nine in the 2000 World Cup, and would have been a major loss to the New Zealand team.
Tonga-born Vainikolo added: "It would have been disastrous if I had gone and not enjoyed it because there would have been no coming back here.

"The success I have had here since I joined also played a part in my decision and I am sure we will be challenging for honours this time around.

"The coaches here are very good and so are my team-mates, so I feel we have made the right decision."

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