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Volcano ready to erupt one last time

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Carl Hicks Carl Hicks | 09:34 UK time, Friday, 8 June 2007

Our cameras will be at Odsal on Sunday for what is almost certain to be our last chance to watch rugby league's volcano exploding down the left wing.

Lesley Vainikolo, Bradford's Tongan-born winger will be making his 150th appearance for the Bulls. Two tries in the game would also make it 150 tries for the club he joined in 2002, edging him into a highly select group of wingers who have averaged the magic try per game.

But the Carnegie Challenge Cup quarter-final against Huddersfield will be big Lesley's last live appearance on BBC TV because even if the Bulls go through he joins Gloucester RUFC from 1 July. There has been speculation that the man nicknamed The Volcano will be allowed back to play for Bradford in the semis and final should they progress, but that seems fanciful.

Lesley Vainikolo will make his 150th appearance for Bradford against Huddersfield Perhaps just as fanciful is the idea that Vainikolo could be in the England rugby union squad that goes to France to defend the World Cup in September, but don't laugh that one off just yet. The RFU have confirmed that Vainikolo has qualified on residency grounds and, like his fellow Kiwi RL star Henry Paul, Vainikolo could now pull on an England RU shirt. Think about it - Jason Robinson and Vainikolo on the wings for England in a UNION World Cup. I'll bet good money that it has crossed Brian Ashton's mind.

Anyway this Sunday we can enjoy for one last time the best sight in any rugby match - a flying winger. The difference with this one is that he's a 19 stone Lomu-esque monster who runs through defences as much as round them.

Where does Vainikolo rank in the great wingers of League? There's one for you. For me no one will ever beat the remarkable Martin Offiah - and that's not just my Widnes bias, get your record book out. In his four seasons after joining Widnes from Rosslyn Park RU in 1988, Offiah scored 44, 60 (yes sixty!), 45 and 49 tries for club and country. For Widnes he scored 181 tries in just 145 games. Oh, then he left for Wigan and lost it!

Vainkolo's Bradford versus Huddersfield Giants is live on BBC TWO on Sunday from 1400 BST

Before that on Saturday we have the BBC’s 2006 Team of the Year St Helens against the Warrington Wolves (kick-off 1215 BST). It was a great night for RL at the NEC last December with Saints coach Daniel Anderson also taking the Coach of the Year prize.

St Helens' Paul Wellens has been in sensational form this season Ask most League fans about this year's Player of the Year so far and most would say the only man who has more tries than Vainikolo this season - Saints full-back Paul Wellens, who was last year's Man of Steel and Player of the Year.

Wellens, born only a stone’s throw from Saints’ Knowsley Road ground, is rapidly becoming a modern great - another yard of pace and he would be the equal of any in history. His skills, bravery, reading of the game and consistency make him the complete modern player. Watch him on Saturday and judge for yourself.

Also on Saturday after the match from 1400 BST on BBCi (via the red button) we will have our RL Forum. Items on the agenda will include Tony Smith's first GB squad, which will be announced next week, and Stuart Cummings’ interesting decision to allow fans to challenge referee's decisions via the Super League website - that should get the e-mails rolling in. You can send them to us via this page.

Get 'em onside!


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