Lomu puts his faith in a blossoming future for England

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Jonah Lomu, who helped the New Zealand Barbarians to their 34- 19 victory over England at Twickenham on Saturday, believes that Jack Rowell's team will be leading contenders for victory in the 1999 World Cup.

"This current England team is going to be a great side, no question about it," Lomu said yesterday."They had a real go at us, didn't freeze up and will take a lot from the match. They are still young and are still learning."

Lomu, who was attending a Reebok-sponsored skills session for youngsters at Cardiff Arms Park, acclaimed England's new outside-half, Mike Catt, who had struggled to contain the New Zealander during last year's 45-29 World Cup semi-final victory in Cape Town.

"I was very impressed with him," Lomu said. "He ran things well and read situations around him. I think his tactical kicking will improve because he's the type of player who wants to learn."

Lomu also paid tribute to David Campese, who retired from international rugby after winning his 101st cap for Australia against Wales in Cardiff on Sunday.

"David Campese has always shown tremendous skills on the field, and I learnt so much from him just by watching the way he did things," Lomu said.

Lomu said he was now looking forward to a long run in the New Zealand Test side after being dropped during last summer's Tri-Nations series against South Africa and Australia.

"It would obviously be annoying if your place was taken by a player who you feel is not as good as yourself. But that's not the case in New Zealand when you've got people like Glen Osborne and Eric Rush around.

"I didn't feel especially hard done by being left out. That is part of the professional game but I never look back in the past. I'm always one to plan ahead for the future."

Lomu said he was delighted with the reception he had received from his British fans, and was looking forward to turning out for the Welsh First Division club Ebbw Vale against an Invitation XV tomorrow night.

Bristol give a senior debut to the scrum-half Richard Smith in tonight's Anglo-Welsh Cup game at home to Neath. Smith, 23, joined Bristol from Newbridge last week and scored a try for Bristol United in Saturday's victory over Clifton Wanderers.

The hooker Mark Regan and the lock Simon Shaw return from England duty and the side also includes the Irish international stand-off Paul Burke and the flanker David Corkery. The captain, Martin Corry, an England replacement against Italy, moves to No 8 to allow the coach, Alan Davies, the opportunity to cast his eyes over the France A back row Said Filali.

Scotland are trying to attract families and children to their international against Italy at Murrayfield on Saturday week. The Scottish Rugby Union's head of marketing, Laura Dick, said: "Among others, we want to target the Italian community in Scotland. We will be using the press, radio and television to promote the match. We want to attract families to the game and have structured the ticket pricing accordingly."

Adults accompanying youngsters will pay pounds 15 for themselves and pounds 5 for each of their charges. A full house is not expected but already 20,000 tickets have been sold and the SRU is hoping for a crowd in excess of 30,000.