Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Vesty Is Enjoying 'Second Chance'

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Vesty Is Enjoying 'Second Chance'

Article excerpt

Byline: Duncan Bech

SAM Vesty may have inspired Leicester's march to two finals yet the revitalised fly-half was headed for the Welford Road exit just three months ago.

Told he did not have a future at the Tigers by former director of rugby Heyneke Meyer, Vesty's fortunes changed when the South African was released on compassionate grounds.

Meyer's successor Richard Cockerill pitched the 27-year-old into action against Wasps in February and he has proved a revelation since, adding a fresh dimension to Leicester's game and attracting the attention of the Lions in the process.

As a result, the Tigers shot up the Guinness Premiership to finish top of the table before crushing Bath to book their place in today's final against London Irish at Twickenham. Seven days later they meet Leinster in the Heineken Cup showpiece yet just 13 matches ago their star performer was searching for a new club.

"I asked if I could start looking elsewhere because I wasn't getting any game time as Heyneke had brought in other players in my positions," said Vesty. "I asked him if I was in the frame and he said no, so I requested permission to move. He was a gentleman about it." "I didn't want to leave Leicester, just wanted to play some rugby. Not playing was hard. It's hard to stay motivated. I was a grumpy git for a bit.

"I was given my chance against Wasps at fly-half. We lost but secured two bonus points and scored four tries. We'd been seventh in the table but from then on we started playing a bit of rugby." Wasps was the turning point for club and player, who prior to the 36-29 defeat had made just one start in three ap- pearances this season. The mop-headed academy product cuts an unlikely figure as saviour but the fourth-generation Tiger's vision and guile has coaxed the best from his team-mates.

"When I got picked I thought I'd play not quite with reckless abandon but I'll give it everything I've got because what have I got to lose?" said Vesty.

"I like to play an attacking game and that suited many of our players. To get guys like Alesana Tuilagi, Geordan Murphy and Dan Hipkiss chasing high balls is a waste.

"Give them the chance of a one-on-one with someone and they'll beat them because I'd say we have the best squad in the country. …

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