Pressure 'too much' for Lomu

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Rugby Union

It has taken slightly less than a year, but Jonah Lomu is already beginning to show that, like Brian Lara, he is feeling the strain of being the world's most famous player in his sport.

A scuffle with a television camera crew following their hounding of him over a secret marriage, from which the mother he dotes on was excluded, and dark hints from his manager that he was thinking of quitting the sport which had brought him more or less instant worldwide recognition - the classic signs are emerging a mere nine months after the World Cup he illuminated so brightly.

The giant winger was clearly furious with the coverage of his secret wedding to Tanya Rutter at the weekend. He erupted when a television reporter approached him at training yesterday. He swore and said: "Why don't you get a life, mate," before slapping away the camera and microphone as he got into a car. Later, he repented enough to go on television and explain his regrets. "It was spur of the moment," he said. "I just lost it."

Lomu also spoke of the decision to exclude his parents from the wedding. "I felt they didn't really want me to do it. I was scared they wouldn't let me." When told his mother, Hepi, had been devastated he said: "I am too. She's the woman who brought me on to this earth and not to have her there was just the hardest thing."

He bemoaned the pressures that go with his new status. "Every port I stop off at, apart from the USA, I just don't have time to myself. Everybody's always confronting me. I just need a little bit of space sometimes - I can't concentrate on rugby. All I want to do is put my head down and work on my game."

His manager, Phil Kingsley-Jones, warned that Lomu could be driven away from the sport. "He feels he's living in a goldfish bowl and he can't handle it. He's at a stage at the moment where he's prepared to chuck it all in. It's just too much for him."

Lomu doubted that, though. "It was just a thought, and that's all it was. I'm not leaving rugby. I definitely know that."

RFU to offer concessions, page 22

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