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Italians thrilled at Lomu return.

Italian minnows Calvisano are ready for an unlikely appointment with rugby giant Jonah Lomu when the New Zealand superstar arrives in town tomorrow.

Calvisano's tiny 3,000-capacity San Michele ground is the venue for Lomu's return to top-flight rugby, six months after he suffered a shoulder injury during Martin Johnson's testimonial match.

Having also undergone a successful kidney transplant since he last played at a serious competitive level, Lomu will begin a seven-month stint with the Blues as stage one towards his ultimate aim of reappearing in an All Blacks shirt.

It had been thought he would feature on the replacements' bench this weekend, and then make a full Blues debut when Calvisano visit the Arms Park next Saturday.

But Lomu (below) has done enough to impress Blues head coach David Young ahead of their Italian job, and he will start in his familiar No 11 jersey.

"This is fantastic news for us," said Calvisano team manager Deane McKinnel. "There are no football matches here tomorrow, which should make a huge difference.

"Treviso (Calvisano's Italian rivals) are away in the Heineken Cup this weekend, and around 200 Treviso fans will be making the two-hour drive just to see Jonah."

Bath host Glasgow in Pool Five tomorrow, while tonight Saracens face a crucial Pool Four clash against Ulster in Belfast and Pool One leaders Sale Sharks are away to Castres.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 9, 2005
Words:229
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