Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rugby Union: Vickery Thrilled to Welcome Vainikolo; SCRUM DOWN

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rugby Union: Vickery Thrilled to Welcome Vainikolo; SCRUM DOWN

Article excerpt

Byline: By Alex Lowe

ENGLAND captain Phil Vickery, as proud an Englishman as they come, welcomed Lesley Vainikolo into the fold and then declared: "I'm grateful he's on my team."

Vainikolo has played international rugby league for New Zealand but qualifies for England on residency grounds and was included by coach Brian Ashton at the first opportunity.

The England squad met on Sunday night to begin the build-up to Saturday's opening RBS 6 Nations clash with Wales when Vainikolo could make his Test debut, providing he overcomes a slight knee injury.

And while some traditionalists will question the recruitment of a Tonga-born destroyer nicknamed 'The Volcano', Vickery (pictured right) is quite comfortable with Vainikolo donning the red rose of England.

"I get fed up with hearing about how proud the Irish are to wear their jersey, and the Welsh and the Scots. I am very proud of being English, of my country and I am very proud to wear the English rose. …

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