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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 May 2007, 14:28 GMT 15:28 UK
Gloucester hail Vainikolo signing
Lesley Vainikolo poses with the Gloucester shirt
Vainikolo will add power and pace to Gloucester's side
Gloucester head coach Dean Ryan says new cross-code signing Lesley Vainikolo has the potential to become a union player of the highest standard.

Vainikolo, 28, who scored 143 tries in 146 appearances for Super League side Bradford, has signed a three-year deal and joins his new club on 1 July.

"This is one of the most exciting in the club's history," said Ryan.

"I'm absolutely delighted that we have signed him. He has the potential to be a world-class player in rugby union."

Vainikolo, arguably the most explosive and devastating finisher in Super League history, will add plenty of power and pace to the Gloucester back division.

That area was brutally exposed by Leicester's powerhouse duo Alesana Tuilagi and Seru Rabeni in Saturday's Premiership final defeat at Twickenham.

Vainikolo, who is 6ft 2in and just over 17 stone, will join up with former Bulls team-mate Karl Pryce at Kingsholm.

They have shown this season what potential they have in reaching the Premiership final

Lesley Vainikolo

Ryan revealed the club first spoke on an informal basis with the winger several years ago about a possible code switch.

"We had informal discussions a couple of years ago and we heard his desire to play for Gloucester was still strong, we moved quickly," added Ryan.

"His try-scoring record is without equal, and the challenge now is for us to create the opportunity to transfer his abilities to 15-a-side rugby.

"The modern game requires power as well as pace, which Lesley will bring us.

"Both Lesley and Karl Pryce should be fit and raring to go after a full pre-season, and they will increase the physicality of the back-line alongside our existing options."

606: DEBATE
Dan

Vainikolo, who has scored 14 tries in 12 appearances for New Zealand including nine during the 2000 World Cup, is looking forward to joining his new club.

"I'm really proud to be joining a club of Gloucester's reputation," he said.

"They have shown this season what potential they have in reaching the Premiership final, and having met with Dean Ryan and the other coaches I know there isn't a better place for me to be to learn about union.

"Kingsholm is a great stadium, even more so when the new grandstand is completed, and from speaking with Karl, the off-field set-up is everything you would expect from a top side."



SEE ALSO
Vainikolo quits league for union
15 May 07 |  Bradford
Gloucester sign Aussie star Paul
15 May 07 |  Gloucester
Vainikolo admits union interest
21 Mar 07 |  My Club


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