Lomu's happy return to Hong Kong Sevens

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The Independent Online
Rugby Union

Jonah Lomu will try to mix romance with rugby during the three-day Hong Kong Sevens that starts tomorrow. Lomu's new bride, Tanya Rutter, who married the giant New Zealand winger in secret 10 days ago - much to the annoyance of his mother - is scheduled to fly in to Hong Kong in time to see New Zealand bid for their third successive title.

Lomu has been shielded by the team's management since he arrived on Saturday and he has not spoken about his tearful television appearance when he admitted he was scared his parents would have tried to stop him marrying the teenager he met during last year's World Cup in South Africa.

But the 6ft 4in, 18st Lomu said the pressure would not stand in the way of his Hong Kong Sevens performance. "I thrive on pressure - I am here to enjoy the tournament and play to the best of my ability," he said.

"It all started here in Hong Kong. My rugby career took off here last year and I will always be grateful for that.

"I will not stop coming here unless I am dropped from the side," said Lomu, whose displays at the past two tournaments brought him to the attention of the world.

New Zealand are hot favourites to win the title for the third straight year and give themselves a huge psychological boost before the World Cup Sevens in Hong Kong next March.

Their main rivals should again be Fiji, whose natural flair for seven- a-side rugby has won them a record seven titles at the Hong Kong Sevens. They are seeded to meet in a repeat of last year's final, won 35-17 by New Zealand with Lomu scoring two superb individual tries.

England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and France have entered teams and England, drawn in the same qualifying group as Scotland, are preparing for a tough encounter with a team featuring their Five Nations captain, Rob Wainwright, stand-off Gregor Townsend and the wingers Michael Dods and Craig Joiner.

For the first time, the tournament will be held over three days, with the teams split into six groups of four for the qualifying matches on Friday and Saturday.

The six group winners will be joined in the quarter-finals by the two second-placed teams with the best records.

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