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IRB Sevens 2004/05


Jonah Lomu first announced himself to the world of Rugby on the Sevens stage

Lomu: A giant on any stage

By Karen Bond

Few people had heard the name Jonah Lomu before the 18 year old, fresh out of Wesley College in Auckland, arrived with the rest of the New Zealand squad for the Hong Kong Sevens in 1994.

By the end of the three day extravaganza Lomu had announced his arrival on the world stage, helping New Zealand win the title by beating Australia in the final with the teenager memorably rounding one David Campese to score a try in the 31-12 victory.

Lomu was labelled a star of tomorrow, but before the year was out he had become the youngest ever player to wear the All Blacks jersey and had also gone on to take the world by storm, being named Player of the Tournament at the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

Even when his name was the biggest in the rugby world, however, Lomu never lost his love of sevens and found time to play in nearly 20 tournaments over the next seven years, including the Commonwealth Games in 1998 when New Zealand won the gold medal.

The 1997 Rugby World Cup Sevens in Hong Kong was deprived of this rarest of talents - the wing was kept out of the event by his rare kidney disorder Nephrotic Syndrome, which resulted in him undergoing a kidney transplant in July 2004 - but he bounced back four years later.

In 2001 in the Argentinean resort of Mar del Plata Lomu did play in a RWC Sevens, although coach Gordon Tietjens only used him sparingly as New Zealand topped Pool C by beating Spain, Japan, Zimbabwe, Chile and England.

" It was just about Jonah against Australia.. "
Gordon Tietjens on Lomu's match-winning display in the 2001 final

The England victory came at a cost, with inspirational captain Eric Rush suffering a broken leg, but when New Zealand needed another hero to stand up and be counted Lomu was more than happy to fill the great Rush's boots.

The final was less than a minute old when he received the ball 70 metres out on the right wing. Richard Graham's tackle was evaded and Brendan Williams' bulldozed. First try, Lomu.

New Zealand led 12-7 at half time, their second try the result of another Lomu break, this time down the left wing, although he was not finished there, bullocking his way over from a well-rehearsed set piece to complete a remarkable hat trick.

Like many others, Australia simply had no answer to Lomu, who was unsurprisingly named man of the match in the victory; a performance that led coach Gordon Tietjens to tell the New Zealand Herald that "it was just about Jonah against Australia".