Jonah Lomu's dream of resuming his glory days has gained considerable credibility through him signing a two-year contract with the North Harbour provincial union. Lomu is scheduled to make his return to rugby in Martin Johnson's testimonial match at Twickenham on June 4. Then, if all goes smoothly, the next milestone will be North Harbour's National Provincial Championship (NPC) opener with neighbours Auckland on August 13. The All Black legend is displaying remarkable determination in following a comeback trail which he hopes will culminate in participation at the 2007 World Cup. When Lomu underwent a successful kidney transplant nine months ago, his many admirers rejoiced that it ended eight years of suffering. He was diagnosed with renal nephritis in 1996 and a gradual deterioration resulted in him stepping on to the sidelines. Prior to the transplant, the once unstoppable winger spent eight hours a day attached to a dialysis machine. Even the most optimistic Lomu fan harboured doubts when, within weeks of the operation, he talked openly of attempting to reclaim his All Black jersey. Only two professional sportsmen have re-commenced their careers following kidney transplants. Both are basketball players and the prospect of Lomu subjecting his repaired body to the rigours of a contact sport played at the highest level produced frowns from fans and medical experts alike. Yet, under the guidance of his surgeon and a bevy of doctors, Lomu has been gradually regaining fitness. Also, we are assured, his new kidney has been placed so deep into his ribcage it will be no more vulnerable than anyone else's. Lomu's condition is monitored daily and one of the reasons why he chose to join North Harbour; rather than fellow suitors Auckland, Counties-Manukau or Wellington, was the fact that prominent sports physician John Mayhew, the former All Blacks' doctor, lives in the same area. Other considerations included the shortage of quality wingers at North Harbour (Lomu would have had to displace either Joe Rokocoko or Doug Howlett had he plumped for Auckland) and financial matters. Salary package details remain confidential, however his wife/manager, Fiona, is a hard-nosed negotiator and there is no doubt the Lomus will have fewer anxieties than most about the rising cost of petrol. Not that Harbour will begrudge their superstar recruit a single cent should he bring them success. Despite being based on the affluent North Shore district of Auckland and, through the years, fielding such luminaries as Buck Shelford, Eric Rush, Walter Little, Frank Bunce, Ian Jones, Frano Botica and Glen Osborne, they have never won any major honour. It could have been different had North Harbour acquired Lomu's services when the opportunity first arose in 1993. The then schoolboy wrote to Rush, with whom he had played alongside in sevens tournaments, asking for a trial with Harbour. Rush declined to reply and the teenage sensation joined humble Counties-Manukau. Within months, he had rampaged through the national sevens tournament in Counties' colours, made a trip to Hong Kong and gained the first of his 63 test caps. The rest is history - a history possibly about to have an extraordinary appendage added. 'My speed is as before,' Lomu warned future rivals at the press conference convened to announce his North Harbour contract. 'My agility is returning and I have taken plenty of hits in my kidney region while kick boxing [which he engages in as a component of his training regime], without any ill effects. The hardest part of my return will be getting back into the groove.' Few are more excited about the potential of Lomu's second coming than former All Black coach John Hart. 'Most of Jonah's past accomplishments were achieved while he was merely 80 per cent fit. Imagine what he will be like when firing on all cylinders!' Hart stated, almost drooling at the prospect. However, the promise of Lomu Mark Two running amuck on the world's rugby grounds does not thrill everybody. 'I believe Jonah's comeback is short sighted, ill conceived and possibly dangerous,' veteran Fijian sports commentator Atama Raganivatu warned. 'How can anybody be absolutely sure he will be able to endure the impact of a hard tackle? 'And why has nobody looked at the situation from the opposing players' standpoint? How would you feel if you were a fullback with Jonah in his sights, fearing your challenge might cause him severe injury? 'The Fiji sevens players I talked to were delighted when rumours about Lomu appearing at the World Cup in March proved to be unfounded. They would have been unable to produce their natural game if he was on the same pitch. 'I have also spoken to several professionals in the field of transplants and each emphasised patients are routinely cautioned against undue physical endeavour after receiving new organs. Numerous other observers hold the same concerns as me, but are reluctant to speak out.' Raganivatu's disquiet may well be coloured by thoughts of Fiji's sevens nemesis returning to battle. Any legitimate fears should be eased by constant re-assurances from Lomu's medical support team the green light was given only after they became totally certain he can cope with the demands of competitive rugby. Intertestingly, Australian bookmakers are now offering a paltry 5-2 against Lomu participating in the 2007 World Cup. Local punters might soon be asking if a book is open on the great man again gracing the Hong Kong Sevens. The odds offered would probably be similar. New Zealand sevens coach Gordon Tietjens has made it clear Lomu would be welcome in his squad and that he believes the abbreviated code would provide the ideal route back to full match fitness. For his part, Lomu always enjoyed sevens. He relished the culture Tietjens created and, understandably, has a deep affection for Hong Kong. Moreover, appearances for New Zealand's sevens combinations seem a logical stepping stone in Lomu's progress from NPC to World Cup. The sight of a Jonah striding colossus like over So Kon Po once again is, therefore, a distinct and exciting possibility.