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Last Updated: Monday, 21 January 2008, 07:04 GMT
Vainikolo spirit lifted by return
Tongan Vainikolo has played rugby league for New Zealand
Lesley Vainikolo will join up with England for the first time on Monday having returned to action for the first time since his father and brother died.

The wing, who helped Gloucester seal a Heineken Cup quarter-final place with victory over Ulster, lost his brother in December and his father in January.

"I just wanted to get back to work and get my head straight and take my mind off things," said Vainikolo.

"Gloucester give me the light to get through and England is an extra bonus."

Tongan Vainikolo, who has played rugby league for New Zealand but qualifies by residence for England, has not played since December, when he flew home to be with his family.

His 37-year-old brother suffered a fatal heart attack and a month later his father died of organ failure.


He did not light up the 29-21 win over Ulster but set up an Iain Balshaw try that sealed a bonus point and ensured home advantage for Gloucester in the April quarter-finals.

"I got to train on Friday and Saturday and it felt good to get back on the rugby field," said the 28-year-old wing.

"God is the one who gives and takes. I was just looking for the challenge and I wanted to get my frustrations out, out there."

I'm just taking life day by day

Lesley Vainikolo
Vainikolo was called up to England's 32-man Six Nations training squad but his father Solomone will never get to see his son in a red rose jersey.

But Vainikolo hopes to see his family name on the Twickenham scoreboard when England open their campaign against Wales on 2 February.

"When I got the call I went straight to my dad and told him before I told the rest of my family.

"It lifted the Vainikolo family spirit and was a bit of good news that my dad's name is going to be up there soon.

"I'm just taking life day by day and trying to get through the dark door I've gone through over the last couple of months."

Gloucester 29-21 Ulster
20 Jan 08 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup photos
20 Jan 08 |  Rugby Union
Vainikolo named in England squad
09 Jan 08 |  English
Vainikolo tipped as England star
09 Jan 08 |  English


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