Former All Blacks winger Jonah Lomu made his first appearance in three years in a major rugby match in New Zealand when he took the field as a replacement for North Harbour against Wellington in the National Provincial Championship yesterday.
Lomu looked trim and fit when he joined the match from the bench in the 52nd minute, immediately contributing to one of North Harbour's four tries in a 31-16 win.
The giant winger last played in New Zealand for Wellington against Taranaki on Aug. 9, 2003, before deteriorating health forced him out of the game.
Lomu underwent kidney transplant surgery in 2004 after suffering renal failure as a result of the rare illness nephritis.
He relied on kidney dialysis to cleanse his blood for almost a year after his kidneys failed and before a donor organ became available.
Lomu remained determined to return to top-level rugby, against the advice of some doctors who feared surgery, which placed his new kidney in his upper abdomen, might make him vulnerable to serious injury.
He achieved his comeback late last year when he joined Welsh club Cardiff on a contract which ended when he broke his ankle.
Lomu has repeatedly said his ambition is to represent New Zealand at next year's Rugby World Cup in France. The blockbusting winger was the outstanding player of the 1995 World Cup.