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Italians Honour Lomu

20 October 2004

Italians Honour Lomu

Jonah Lomu today confirmed he will travel to Italy early next month as a guest of the Italian Rugby Federation, in his first international trip since his kidney transplant earlier this year.

The invitation, timed to coincide with the Italy vs All Black game, has been extended as an acknowledgement of Lomu's great contribution to the game of rugby and his courage over the past few years.

While in Italy, Lomu will be presented with two prestigious Italian sports awards - the first a top Italian rugby award, "Pro Singulari Nerito," and the second, the Rugby Lifestyle Award, designed especially for Jonah by Italian artist Alberto Ciarla.

"This award is a symbol of Jonah's behaviour in difficult circumstances - his lifestyle, courage and class - the virtues of a great rugby man," says the Italian Rugby Federation, Director of Communications, Giacomo Mazzocci.

"These awards are by no means a farewell to Jonah," he says.

"I am incredibly humbled by the gesture of the Italian Rugby Federation," says Lomu today. "I am really looking forward to the trip".

Lomu is currently working hard on making a come-back to the game following ten years of a debilitating kidney disease, resulting in a live donor transplant 11 weeks ago.

"Jonah is far from hanging his boots up. In-fact he has been very open about his dream of playing in the Rugby World Cup 2007," says Lomu's manager and wife, Fiona Lomu.

"He is back into a demanding daily fitness regime and is feeling better than he has felt in years.

"While we have a long way to go before he is given the all-clear after his transplant, he is intent on following his dream and we are doing all we can to support that right now.

"He is buoyed by the numerous offshore playing opportunities that have been put to him in the past month. We are very fortunate to be in a position where we are under no time pressures and can take our time to consider the options carefully.

"I am still overwhelmed by the support I am getting daily from around the world. It has made my recovery much easier to manage," says Jonah Lomu.

ENDS


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