John Lomu’s topsyturvy season continues with the news that the 60 times capped player has been omitted from the Bledisloe Cup side for Saturday’s clash with Australia
Twenty seven year old Lomu, and loose forward Taine Randell (48 caps), were omitted from the test 22 for Saturday’s Stadium Australia Tri-Nations decider. However, Lomu explained in a television interview last night that he had had health problems related to his chronic kidney complaint during the Super 12 campaign this year. Although not offering this as an excuse for losing the All Blacks left-wing jersey to Canterbury’s Caleb Ralph, he said his kidney problem had never gone away, but he had kept it in check and was now 100 per cent. He admitted that he was just not good enough to play, but stressed that his desire was still strong to get his place in the side back, pointing out that having lost more than 10kg, at 116kg, he was the lightest he had been for a long time.
He didn’t believe he was past his peak, in fact he felt that “There’s still something in there that I haven’t found yet. I’m not sure what it is. But when I do, that’s when I know I’ve hit my peak.”
He is named in the extended 26-strong group to travel on for the final Tri-Nations test in South Africa, unlike former skipper Randell whose chances of inclusion were probably not helped by a calf muscle injury. Randell who captained the Blacks in 19 tests is replaced in the squad by Canterbury loose forward Sam Broomhall. In the only significant change from the side who beat the Springboks 41-20, Tana Umaga replaces Mark Robinson in the centre while Christian Cullen retains the number 15 jersey despite the return from injury of Leon MacDonald.
All Blacks: Christian Cullen; Doug Howlett, Tana Umaga, Aaron Mauger, Caleb Ralph, Andrew Mehrtens, Justin Marshall; Dave Hewett, Mark Hammett, Greg Somerville; Chris Jack, Simon Maling; Reuben Thorne (capt), Richard McCaw,Scott Robertson.
Reserves: Leon MacDonald, Daryl Gibson, Byron Kelleher, Sam Broomhall, Marty Holah, Joe McDonnell, Tom Willis/Andrew Hore.
Australia: Chris Latham; Ben Tune, Matthew Burke (vice-captain), Stirling Mortlock, Daniel Herbert; Stephen Larkham, George Gregan (capt); Bill Young, Jeremy Paul, Patricio Noriega; Nathan Sharpe, Justin Harrison; Owen Finegan, George Smith,
Reserves: Brendan Cannon, Ben Darwin, Matt Cockbain, David Lyons, Chris Whitaker, Elton Flatley, Mat Rogers, David Croft.