Monday, November 11, 2013

Lack of use by NZRU saddens Lomu

Not many New Zealand sports stars could warrant an update of their autobiography.

Richard Hadlee managed it, but then he had nearly 20 years of top-flight cricket and the likes of Peter Snell and Martin Crowe had post-career updates long after their competitive days were over.

JONAH - My Story. Published by Hodder Moa

But it is fitting that All Blacks' colossus Jonah Lomu has managed the feat.

His was a genuine international best seller which was hardly surprising given the profile he enjoyed in the sports world.

He also had some notable occurrences in his life after the publication of his first book, especially the kidney transplant he received, and which was the forerunner to his attempted comeback in the game.

Both issues are dealt with in his reissue as is the falling out with his former manager Phil Kingsley Jones.

Lomu also talks about the rough time he had after his appearance at the Rugby World Cup opening in Auckland when all in the stadium of four million could see that he wasn't at his best.

It turned out, within hours, that his transplanted kidney had gone into meltdown and couldn't be saved after seven years. And as a result Lomu has gone back on the waiting list for a new organ. His efforts to make sure he could attend the World Cup final show the level of determination that has marked the latter years of his life.

One regrettable point Lomu outlines is his lack of use by the New Zealand Rugby Union. He said it was a pity, since he stopped playing, that their relationship had not been closer.

"Unlike adidas, they just don't seem to want to have me involved. Even when I came back to rugby with North Harbour, they weren't interested.

"I never spoke to anyone from the union and it's pretty much been that way since I finished playing for the All Blacks.  Back in 2004, I would have thought maybe a get well card after the transplant operation might have been a nice gesture. Instead I got nothing. Not even a call," he said.

Lomu heard the NZRU had not been happy that he 'supported' Japan's bid for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. But he said he was asked by a journalist if he thought Japan would benefit from getting the 2011 World Cup? He said: "Yeah, of course it would be good for the world game. Asia is a big, untapped market."

But he added: "That was a hell of a long way short of me actually supporting their big over New Zealand's. No one was happier than me when we won the rights for the cup in 2011."

Lomu said with his work with sponsors he had learnt plenty and felt he had something to offer but the lack of a relationship with the NZRU was disappointing.

"Ultimately, it's their choice - we all have choices - but I would have thought they might have taken a bit of time, especially in recent years, to ask if there was anything I could do for them.

"Anyway, my door is always open. I've been loyal to the game and the jersey.

"I've never taken a handout in my life, and I don't ever expect any now. That's the way it will always be," he said.

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