Monday, April 02, 2007

Lomu turns down league offer

October 27, 2006

via NZH:

Lomu says no to league, yes to rugby

7.00pm Friday October 27, 2006

SYDNEY - Former All Blacks winger Jonah Lomu has rejected an offer to play rugby league in Australia next season, saying he wants to stick with rugby union.

Lomu, who played 73 matches, including 63 tests, had been offered a one-year contract with the National Rugby League's (NRL) Gold Coast Titans but told the new franchise today that he had decided against switching codes.

"We understand and respect the business decision Jonah has made and wish him all the best in rugby and in life," Titans managing director Michael Searle said in a statement.

"Both Jonah and (his wife) Fiona have been a pleasure to deal with and we look forward to having them as guests of the Titans at an NRL game in the near future."

Lomu, who was once the most feared player in rugby before being struck down by a debilitating kidney illness, had considered switching codes after conceding his dream of playing for the All Blacks at next year's World Cup was over.

The 31-year-old had launched a comeback in 2005 after a kidney transplant in the hope of regaining his place in the team but accepted his chances were finished when he failed to win a contract with any of New Zealand's five teams for the 2007 Super 14 season.

Lomu, one of the youngest players to represent the All Blacks when he made his test debut in 1994 aged 19, quickly established himself as the most exciting player of his generation, scoring 37 tries in his 63 tests.

A giant winger with strength and pace to match his size, Lomu was the outstanding player at the 1995 World Cup in South Africa, single-handedly destroying England in the semifinals with four bullocking tries.

New Zealand lost the final to the Springboks in extra time then suffered a shock defeat to France in the 1999 World Cup semifinals despite another destructive performance from a rampaging Lomu.

He missed the 2003 World Cup in Australia after he was forced to commence dialysis to his deteriorating kidney before undergoing a transplant in 2004.

It is believed Lomu was offered a one-year deal worth around A$100,000 ($117,660) by the Titans.

But the biggest hurdle stopping Lomu from joining the Titans was his worldwide, seven-figure sponsorship deals with companies associated with rugby union.

Lomu was in France this week trying to convince his sponsors to support a code switch.


  • Earlier: "Lomu expected to make code switch decision this weekend."

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