Bristol hopeful of luring Lomu

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The Independent Online

Bristol are confident All Blacks wonder winger Jonah Lomu will join them and believe a contract could be completed by the end of the week.

Bristol are confident All Blacks wonder winger Jonah Lomu will join them and believe a contract could be completed by the end of the week.

Lomu's contract with the New Zealand Rugby Football Union expired after the All Blacks' World Cup play-off against South Africa.

The 24-year-old superstar has been the subject of weekend reports that he had signed a £1.1million two-year deal with Bristol.

Bristol chief executive Nick de Scossa confirmed on BBC Radio Bristol this morning that the club had been in discussions with the player despite denials over the weekend that talks had progressed further than an enquiry with the player's agent, Phil Kingsley Jones.

"We had a long meeting with the player on Saturday to put forward our proposals and we are awaiting a decision from his management," said de Scossa.

"I presume that they've had talks with a number of clubs as well as Bristol because Lomu is a very marketable commodity at this moment.

"What his management have said to us is that they are looking at more than just money. It is about the lifestyle that the player can expect, where he might live and what sort of club he would be joining and about the owner's knowledge of the game."

De Scossa is believed to have met with the player and Kingsley Jones in a west Wales hotel on Saturday.

The club are unwilling to discuss what terms have been offered to Lomu but have stressed that it would be on a par with those paid to some of their other stars such as Springbok Henry Honiball and Puma Agustin Pichot.

"The package that we have tabled stays within the £1.8million salary cap. It doesn't involve employing his agent or the agent's wife as one paper suggested," added de Scossa.

"Lomu is a very marketable person at the moment and it is up to his management to secure other deals with sponsors and the monies from that would go directly to the player and not the club.

"Other club are pitching in for the player but one thing that we have sold to him is the rugby tradition of the Bristol club and the ways that we are trying to re-ignite the enthusiasm for the game at the Memorial Stadium."

Meanwhile, Saracens coach Alan Zondagh believes Lomu will not be joining the Allied Dunbar Premiership.

London Irish are also chasing the awesome All Black but Zondagh thinks he will sign a new, improved contract with the New Zealand RFU, allowing him to cash in on lucrative personal marketing rights.

Saracens owner Nigel Wray met with Lomu's agent at a recent dinner and the pair briefly discussed the giant winger's future.

However, Zondagh denied reports that Saracens had offered a seven-figure sum for his services.

"I very much doubt he will be playing in the UK this season. I can't see how it can be done within the salary-capping rules," he said.

"If clubs want to chase him it's up to them but we won't be joining the hunt."