Lomu signs new All Blacks contract

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The Independent Online

By Paul Trow

By Paul Trow

14 November 1999

The All Blacks wing Jonah Lomu has signed a two-year deal with the New Zealand Rugby Football Union, confirming his decision to stay with the code after turning down a lucrative offer to play rugby league in Britain.

Lomu made the announcement at an airport press conference last night on his arrival back in New Zealand from England. No decision was made on whether he would switch to another rugby union province from Counties Manukau.

Last week, Lomu said he had rejected an offer from Wakefield to play rugby league because he had "some unfinished business" in rugby union. The Super League club confirmed that Lomu had rejected a £1m two-year deal to switch codes.

Lomu, whose All Blacks contract expired after the recent World Cup, attracted a flood of offers after scoring eight tries in the tournament to better the record of seven he set in 1995. Other bids came in from rugby league clubs Leeds Rhinos and Auckland Warriors, while Bristol and London Irish headed the rugby union offers.

The England coach, Clive Woodward, will provide his verdict on what went wrong during the recent World Cup campaign and outline his proposed preparations for the forthcoming Six Nations' Championship at Twickenham on Tuesday.

Woodward has been pilloried by a number of senior figures within the game, including the former international prop Jeff Probyn, who is now a Rugby Football Union committee member, for the England squad's perceived shortage of tactics and lack of variety during the defeats by New Zealand and South Africa.

Since the resignation of the New Zealand coach, John Hart, in the wake of the All Blacks' semi-final collapse against France and their subsequent third-place loss to South Africa, Woodward has been under pressure from certain quarters to follow suit.

But the top brass at headquarters appear to be backing Woodward despite England's disappointing quarter-final exit from the five-week tournament. He will be joined on the podium at the post-World Cup media debriefing by the Rugby Football Union's chief executive, Francis Baron, and the former Lions manager Fran Cotton, who is chairman of the Club England initiative.

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