Love-sick Lomu elopes


ALL BLACK star Jonah Lomu broke down in tears yesterday after telling how he kept his marriage to a South African a secret because he feared his mother would try to stop it.

Lomu (20), married Tanya-Rutter (19), on St Patrick's Day at a ceremony which their parents knew nothing about.

The Tongan-born star of last year's World Cup, comforted by his new wife, said in Auckland: "It was the hardest thing we could come to terms with, to invite my parents.

"I felt they didn't really want me to do it, I was scared they wouldn't let me do it but I found I was the legal age ... I had to take it to terms."

The giant winger, focal point of the New Zealand side, is said to have earned around $4 million in advertising endorsements alone since taking the rugby world by storm.

But his mother, Hepisipapiu, was furious about the wedding. "I want nothing to do with those two, this wedding is finished, it is past", she said.

The remark brought more tears from the player. Lomu said: "She was the lady who brought me onto this ....... and not to have her there, it's the hardest thing ... She even disowned me as it is. I can't really say anything else about it."

Rutter said she found it hard to be without her parents. "I don't have anybody that I can go and knock on somebody's door and say I need a cup of tea and to cry, which is hard," she said.

Yesterday was a miserable day for Lomu. At early morning training for the Auckland Blues he was told off for poor fitness and lack of concentration, and then he had an altercation with a photographer which resulted in smashed equipment.

"It was spur of the moment, I just lost it... While I was training this morning I could think of nothing but what was going on outside."

His Welsh-based manager, Phil Knightley-Jones, claimed Lomu was on the verge off quitting rugby, but Lomu told New Zealand television he was not leaving the game.

"I love my rugby, don't get me wrong. It's the number one reason why I stay with rugby. I love the people of New Zealand itself, but I do need the space," he said.

Rutter said they would stay in New Zealand. "I wouldn't take him away from New Zealand, this is where he is comfortable, I know that. He just needs to find his comfort."

All Black coach John Hart said Lomu was totally different from anything else the All Blacks had ever had. "We need to get a proper understanding of the requirements for him to meet his public, but we need to ensure he has privacy. He is a young man, he needs space," Hart said.

"Being under this sort of pressure, his game will suffer and he is one of the greatest exponents of the game of rugby and we need to get behind him and help him get through this stressful time."