Lomu under scrutiny

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The Independent Online

Australian officials are to ask the game's governing body if Jonah Lomu has been given special dispensation to take banned medication to deal with a kidney complaint.

Australian officials are to ask the game's governing body if Jonah Lomu has been given special dispensation to take banned medication to deal with a kidney complaint.

The All Black winger burst onto the world stage in 1994 but was diagnosed with Nephrotic Syndrome, a rare kidney disorder, two years later which forced him out of the game for 12 months. He then began treatment for the cancer-threatening ailment and it is alleged, according to an Australian newspaper, that might have included taking substances on the sport's prohibited list.

"Our understanding is that might be the case - we're trying to find out," Australia's rugby union general manager, John O'Neill, said. "But we've asked the Kiwis and you don't get much in the way of response."

France are following the lead taken by Australia, England and Scotland, by appointing a rugby league man as defensive coach.

Dave Ellis, a 43-year-old former Castleford, Keighley and Doncaster player, has been handed the job of tightening arguably the most indisciplined defence in the Six Nations.

"Obviously they knew about Phil Larder with England and John Muggleton with Australia and they needed someone to do a similar job," said Ellis, who joined up with France's head coach, Bernard Laporte, earlier this week.

The move comes in the wake of the appointments of the former league players Alan Tait and Ellery Hanley as defensive coaches to Scotland and Bristol respectively.

The New Zealand Rugby Football Union has changed its rules to allow overseas-based New Zealand coaches to return to coach the All Blacks.

The previous rule, introduced in 1998, said no coach who had controlled a foreign international team could ever return to take charge of the New Zealand team.

The decision became know as the "Henry Rule" as it was linked to the departure of the former Auckland coach Graham Henry to coach Wales. But a NZRFU spokesman said any future All Black coach must now have coached a New Zealand provincial, Super 12 or national representative team in the year prior to their appointment.

Bristol's former Springbok fly-half Henry Honiball is set to retire from the game. The 34-year-old is suffering from a serious neck injury which could cause long-term damage if he were to continue playing.

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