Jonah Lomu, who broke his ankle playing for Cardiff two weeks ago, still believes he can make the All Blacks’ World Cup squad.
The winger injured himself against the Border Reivers, but aims to be fit for the start of North Harbour’s NPC campaign. He then hopes to earn a Super 14 contract for next year and do enough to impress All Black coach Graham Henry.
Lomu returned to rugby last year after recovering from a life-threatening kidney disease, playing in Martin Johnson’s testimonial.at Twickenham. He injured his shoulder during that match, ruling himself out of the NPC season, before signing a short-term contract with Cardiff.
“I still sincerely believe I can make the World Cup squad,” Lomu told The Telegraph. “My time here in Wales has been brilliant. I’ve loved the passion and interest for the game, but people have also given me plenty of space and respected my privacy. It will be much more of a goldfish bowl when I go back to New Zealand.
Lomu said his stint with Cardiff had been valuable in terms of his development.
“When I arrived, things were still very difficult,” he said. “I had worked on my general fitness after the transplant but the hangover from my illness was still there. I had very little feeling in my legs below the knee, the result of nerve damage from the years of kidney disease. As Sean says, my big strength as a player is being a big guy who is able to run around the outside. I’ve had to totally re-educate the bottom half of my body, learn to sprint and step again. It’s a frustrating process, two steps forward, one back, so to speak.
“I’m frustrated a little by the [ankle] injury – not the break itself, it’s a minor thing and pretty run of the mill as far as a rugby professional is concerned. But more the fact that I was just hitting my straps and feeling instinctive again. Another couple of games under my belt would have been good.
“But I’m still on course. I’ve lost another stone-and-a-half [9.5 kilograms] while working on my running and now I’ve got a three-month pre-season for my NPC season with North Harbour to get the strength back, as well. So far, everything has been build-up and rehab. All I would say is, judge me on my NPC season.”