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Aviva Premiership
Vainikolo bids farewell to Gloucester
ESPNscrum Staff
January 9, 2012
Gloucester wing Lesley Vainikolo scores the game's opening try, Gloucester v Sale Sharks, Guinness Premiership, Kingsholm, Gloucester, England, February 27, 2010
Lesley Vainikolo crossed the line on 36 occasions for Gloucester © Getty Images
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Former Gloucester wing Lesley Vainikolo has bid farewell to the Cherry and White faithful after agreeing a switch to France last week.

The five-cap Tongan born England winger has signed a two and a half year deal with French side La Rochelle but has admitted it was a tough decision to bid adieu to Kingsholm. With 36 tries in 79 appearances for Gloucester, Vainikolo brought a physical presence to the Cherry and White's backline but with the likes of Jonny May, Charlie Sharples, James Simpson-Daniel and Tom Voyce shining for Bryan Redpath's side, Vainikolo found his first-team opportunities limited.

Vainikolo, who scored five tries on his debut for Gloucester against Leeds back in September 2007, has paid tribute to the supporters and admitted that financial stability was one reason behind his decision to move to France.

"I would have loved to stay at Gloucester, and to leave is so tough, leaving close friends and great people behind," Vainikolo told the Gloucester Citizen. "But I've also go to think about my family, my future in rugby, and my security. It was too good an offer to turn down to be honest.

"We're rugby players and we need to play regularly, that's how we do our job and our passion fully. You always respect selection, but also, you've also got to play regularly if you can. So La Rochelle can offer me the chance to play week in, week out, and there's a very real chance I can help take the club back to the Top 14."

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