Jonah to be swallowed by Titans

Jonah Lomu, former All Blacks winger, is negotiating a one-season deal with new Australian National Rugby League club the Gold Coast Titans, the club said on Monday.

    Jonah Lomu during his days with the All Blacks

    Lomu, who underwent a kidney transplant in 2004, is without a Super 14 club contract for next season, ending his dream of returning for the All Blacks for the 2007 Rugby World Cup.


    "From our point of view we won't get a more devastating player, despite his medical setbacks," Titans chief executive Michael Searle said.


    "From all indications he's on his way back to the top and I've got no doubt (conditioner) Billy Johnstone and (coach) John Cartwright can facilitate representative status and make him one of the few dual internationals."


    31-year-old Lomu has 73 caps for the All Blacks and has played at two World Cups, with his devastating style of running striking fear in most defenders.


    If the giant winger passes a medical test and chooses to join the new NRL enterprise, he will be the second high-profile rugby star to sign for the Gold Coast club after dual-international Mat Rogers decided to join the club in 2008.


    "If we can facilitate an opportunity for him to become a success in the 13-man game, I think it'd be a great outcome," Searle said.


    "He's the biggest name in world rugby. At his peak he was one of the most devastating players in the game. From a financial point of view this isn't a massive risk for us."


    Lomu would be offered less than $75,000 for a one season deal, in order for the Titans to be able to stay under the NRL salary cap, media reports said on Monday.


    "There can't be a salary cap concession but there are not many bigger names in terms of what he's achieved than Jonah," said NRL chief David Gallop.


    "It'd be another big feather in the Titans' cap and a nice bonus for rugby league."


    After contracting the rare illness nephritis, which led to kidney failure and a transplant, Lomu has started just one match for New Zealand provincial rugby side North Harbour this season, with his substitute appearances being brief and mostly ineffective.


    The Gold Coast Titans, based just south of Brisbane, will become the 16th team in the 2007 NRL competition.



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