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#TBT: Lomu's debut in Calvisano

Blues News | 14th November 2019


This weekend Cardiff Blues travel to the Italian province of Brescia in Lombardy, as they open their European Challenge Cup campaign against Calvisano.

Calvisano v Cardiff Blues is a fixture forever remember in the region’s history, as it marked the debut of international superstar, Jonah Lomu, for the Arms Park outfit.

Considered one of rugby’s true global superstars, Lomu arrived at Cardiff Blues in 2005 and went on to make 10 appearances for Wales’ Capital Region.

The All Blacks legend, who was one of world rugby's deadliest attackers, was on the comeback trail following a serious and rare kidney disease, and made his first competitive rugby appearance in three years in front of a packed crowd at Stadio San Michele.

"This move came about because I have to get regular football to get where I want to be," said Lomu ahead of his move to Wales.

"It's a bold move forward in that I'm going offshore, but it's going to be a great challenge.

"When I've been over there, I've always felt that Wales has been my second home and now it's going to be my home for seven months.

"I've always had great warmth from the Welsh and I'm really looking forward to joining the Blues.”

Having also recovered from a recent shoulder injury - which he suffered during Martin Johnson’s testimonial match - it was announced that Lomu would make his much-anticipated Cardiff Blues debut against the Italian outfit in the Heineken Cup.

It would be an emotional return for the 73-times capped All Black, and ahead of his bow for Wales’ Capital Region, the New Zealand international said: “It’s a day I thought I would never come.

“It reiterates that if you are willing to work hard to achieve something you can do it. I made the decision I would play again and on Saturday my dream will be realised.

“People have been saying it would never happen. But people have been telling me what I can't do since 1994 when I made my debut for New Zealand.

“It has been with me my whole life and is nothing new, but I have stuck to what I believe in.

“Now I am getting back to doing what I love best and that is playing rugby.

“I am surprised to be starting, but I can't wait to get out there. I have been given the opportunity and it is up to me to perform and repay the confidence the Blues have put in me.

“People talk about me being a legend of the game, but I don't believe that I am. Whatever I have done in the past I have left in the past and I will only reflect on my career when I retire.”

While Lomu didn’t cross the whitewash out in Italy, he did create a try for his side, and generally impressed with his contribution.

The Blues ran away 25-10 winners in Calvisano, with Chris Czekaj, Robert Sidoli, Rhys Williams and Martyn Williams all dotting down for the visitors.

The wing enjoyed an hour of action, before he made way for Jamie Robinson, 

After the game, Lomu said: ”I just needed to get bumped and bruised, to get the body bashed about a bit.

”It was pretty crazy but I got a bit out of it. I just enjoyed being out there with my team-mates.

“I've got over the first hurdle. Next it is the time to take a step forward with the team and try and do a bit more.

“It's about growing confidence and familiarity with the great people around me, and increasing the work-rate around the field.”

Lomu left his mark at Cardiff Arms Park, and his time with the region is still remembered fondly. He made an impact, particularly off the field, and was much-loved by supporters and team-mates alike.

Monday will mark four years since Lomu tragically passed away at 40 years old, but Cardiff Blues are honoured to have played a small part in his legendary career.

Reflecting at the end of his time with Cardiff Blues, Lomu said: “My time here in Wales has been brilliant.

"I've loved the passion and interest for the game, but people have also given me plenty of space and respected my privacy.

"It will be much more of a goldfish bowl when I go back to New Zealand.

"The Blues have been fantastic. They've indulged me really and simply said, we know what you're trying to do and we want to help.”

European rugby returns to the Welsh capital on Saturday, November 23. It's a re-match of the infamous 2009 Heineken Cup semi final, as Cardiff Blues and Leicester Tigers write a new chapter in their long-standing European rivalry. Make sure you head down to CAP for what should be a stunning night of European rugby. Tickets available NOW!