Rugby Union: Lomu setback to All Blacks' tour

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The Independent Online
Jonah Lomu leaves New Zealand today for the forthcoming All Blacks' tour of Britain with a fresh cloud over his fitness.

A change of medication for the kidney problem which threatened his career earlier this year has adversely affected the giant wing's form and stamina in training during which he failed to complete a 3km time-trial.

The All Blacks' coach John Hart said: "Jonah had a problem with the medication. He's really keen but there's no way we're going to put pressure on him. We want him to be one of the team and we're taking him on this tour not to put pressure on him but to help him come back from a very difficult illness."

The All Blacks' other injury concern, the Wellington winger Tana Umaga, has passed a fitness test on his injured ankle.

In Division One of the Allied Dunbar Premiership today, France's record centre Philippe Sella misses second-placed Saracens' meeting with struggling Bristol at Vicarage Road. Ryan Constable moves to centre, Matt Singer takes his place on the wing and teenager David Thompson starts a senior match for the first time at full-back.

Alan Davies, the Bristol coach, is encouraged by his side's first Premiership win of the season over Northampton last weekend. "We showed commitment and excellent defence in preventing Northampton scoring a try. It's got to be more of the same."

Lawrence Dallaglio will put all thoughts of his first assignment as England captain, against Australia on 15 November, behind him when he leads Wasps against Sale at Loftus Road this afternoon. "We've lost two league matches on the trot and can't afford a third," said Dallaglio.

Nigel Melville, Wasps' director of rugby, had stern words for his team after their recent defeats by Saracens and London Irish. "Any player who pulls on a Wasps shirt must realise that they are representing the champions and perform up to their status," said Melville. "They have the skill. It's a question of application. Every player has to examine his own output."

Harlequins visit Gloucester for a match which sees both sides' coaches placing the emphasis on defence. Gloucester have had an encouraging autumn, reaching the European Conference quarter-finals and winning two of their four Premiership matches. "But we've leaked far too many tries," said the club's director of rugby, Richard Hill. "We've just about got away with it, but it could cost us dear."

Harlequins' Andy Keast said: "At Kingsholm, we'll get everything thrown at us - physically by Gloucester and verbally by the crowd. If we can repel Gloucester's early attacks then the rest of our game will take care of itself."

The third round of the Tetley's Bitter Cup threw up one major upset when Orrell, who last season were in the First Division, lost 26-16 at home to Newbury, currently ninth in Jewson National League One. The only other result which contradicted league standings, although it was not exactly a surprise, saw National League One leaders London Welsh edge into tomorrow's fourth-round draw at the expense of Waterloo, of Allied Dunbar Premiership Division Two, by the slender margin of 36-34.

Caerphilly maintained their three-point lead over Aberavon in the Welsh National League First Division with a 17-13 home win over Merthyr.

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