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Last Updated: Friday, 11 January 2008, 14:26 GMT
Paul preparing to hang up boots
By Phil Gordos

Henry Paul
Paul is nearing the end of an illustrious cross-code career
Rugby league great Henry Paul says he will end his playing career after the 2008 Super League season.

The Harlequins star told BBC Sport he had lost none of his desire but felt it was the right time to bow out.

"My mindset is that this is my last year," said the 33-year-old dual-code international. "The time is coming when I am thinking of other things to do."

Paul won the Super League Grand Final and Challenge Cup with both Wigan and Bradford before a 2001 switch to union.

As a league international with New Zealand, the Kiwi-born stand-off won 23 caps and played in a World Cup final.

He moved to the 15-man game with Premiership club Gloucester and, eligible through a Liverpudlian grandfather, was capped six-times by England.

Paul returned to league in April 2006 when he joined Super League side Quins.

Now, with just a year left on his contract, he intends to make the most of his final season before hanging up his boots.

The fans at Twickenham will love Les because he's such a special talent

Henry Paul on new England recruit Leslie Vainikolo

"I'm going to make sure I give it everything and really enjoy it," he said. "I'm feeling fit, fresh and ready to go.

"It's not about hunger and desire, this is what I love to do. I just love playing."

Quins have been in a punishing training camp ahead of Super League XIII, and Paul added: "I was thinking to myself 'this is last time I'm going to be doing this'. No more pre-seasons for me."

As he contemplates the end of his career, former New Zealand team-mate Lesley Vainikolo is following in his footsteps, having signed for Gloucester and received his first call-up to England duty.

Paul has no doubt that winger Vainikolo, who has earned comparisons with All Blacks legend Jonah Lomu, will make his mark.

Born: 10.2.74 Tokoroa, NZ
1993: Joins Wakefield Trinity
1994: Switches to Wigan
1995: Wins Challenge Cup
1998: Wins Super League
1998: Joins Bradford Bulls
2000: Wins Challenge Cup
2001: Wins Super League
2001: Switches codes to Glos
2002: Wins first England cap
2004: Last of six England caps
2006: Join Harlequins RL

"One on one, he will destroy any player in the world," said Paul. "Although most sides put three or four men on to him, he usually still reaches the try line.

"The fans at Twickenham will love Les because he's such a special talent and the comparisons with Lomu are valid.

"I certainly don't envy the Wales defenders who have to mark him in the opening game."

Paul also thinks England are now clear favourites to win the Six Nations, which starts next month, now that Vainikolo is in their ranks.

"With Les in the side, the Six Nations is England's to lose," he said.

"There's an air of optimism around the team after the World Cup and they should be looking to go all the way in the Six Nations."

Paul still speaks to Vainikolo but said he would not be offering him any advice.

"He doesn't need any," he said. "The guy can play rugby and play it well. That's all it comes down to in the end.

"England are going to want results and he has shown throughout his career he can get results."

Henry Paul in Sevens action for England in Hong Kong.
Paul made a big impact with the England Sevens team

Paul also thinks union fans may not have seen the last of Andy Farrell in an England shirt.

Another union convert from league, the former Great Britain captain has been left out Brian Ashton's Six Nations squad after being a member of England's World Cup campaign.

"You can never say never," said Paul, who turns 34 in February.

"There's the potential for him to get back in the squad, via injuries and stuff, but you've got Mathew Tait, Jamie Noon and the other young guys whose desire to play is massive.

"But Faz is a strong character and has just signed a two-year deal with Sarries at the age of 32, so they obviously rate him highly."

Kiwis close door on Paul return
23 May 06 |  International
Paul in frame for Great Britain
02 May 06 |  International
Paul rues missed England chance
29 Apr 06 |  Internationals
Paul returns to league with Quins
27 Apr 06 |  Harlequins


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