PROMISING Super 14 player Jarek Goebel thought he was entering into a lifetime commitment when he wed property manager Nadene Quirk on a perfect autumn afternoon last April.
The 23-year-old, part of the Blues squad that prepared for last night's season opener against the Chiefs, was a picture of happiness at Auckland's Bastion Point as he celebrated the couple's big day with friends and family.
Now, 10 months later, Jarek's hopes and aspirations for his future with the 27-year-old brunette have been shattered by Jonah Lomu a man who would count among his rugby idols.
Jarek is back home in Pakuranga, east Auckland, with the parents who raised him as a Roman Catholic to believe in the sanctity of marriage while Nadene begins a new life with Lomu in Wellington.
Lomu's wife and manager Fiona has maintained her silence since the high-profile pair announced in December that they were working through "issues in their relationship".
At the time, they claimed their four-year marriage "had not ended" and that no other parties were involved.
But Jarek confirmed details of the 63-test veteran's affair with Nadene when approached by Sunday News on Friday, saying he was "angry, upset and shocked" by her decision to leave him.
Although he dreams of following Jonah's steps into the All Blacks, Jarek insisted his relationship with Nadene always came first.
"I'm not like Jonah ... I mean how many girls and weddings has he had," Jarek said.
"My marriage has always come before my sport. Family is always first. Marriage is No 1.
"I am pretty private and I don't really want to bare my soul about how I really feel. It's been a hard time. I could make Jonah look a dick, but I'm not going to."
But the well-regarded winger, who made his mark with the Auckland University side, revealed how the pain of the split became almost became unbearable when Nadene turned up at a Blues training session with her superstar lover a move that stunned Jarek and his team-mates.
"Jonah and her turned up together," he told Sunday News. "I suppose you could say I was angry, pretty angry, really.
"I am just trying to sort myself out at the moment. Once it happened, I began doing my own thing. That's the easiest way to get over it. As long as she is happy, that's fine. I don't want to look as if I am trying to bring them down. Life goes on."
Nadene joins a list of brown-eyed beauties who have fallen for the charms of
the sporting legend since he burst into the headlines at the 1995 World Cup.
Jonah would not comment on his latest love when confronted by Sunday News at the 10th anniversary celebrations of Wellington's Te Papa Museum yesterday but admitted: "I knew this was coming."
He left the museum for a central city apartment owned by the Quirk family.
Nadene, who has built a successful career as a property management specialist and has been used by a government agency as a role model for young Maori women, was equally reluctant to talk when contacted on her cellphone.
"I don't really have any comments to make about anything at the moment," she said. But when asked if the training-ground appearance had been awkward for her and her young husband, she conceded: "I suppose you could say that."
Fiona Lomu was at home last week at the $1.35m Herne Bay house she shared with Jonah but could not be reached by Sunday News last night.
The couple married in a lavish ceremony on Waiheke Island in 2003 and Fiona stood by Jonah during the darkest days of his kidney failure, through his subsequent recovery from a transplant and his attempts at a rugby comeback.
At the height of his career, Jonah was believed to be worth in excess of $15 million.
But he has not played competitively since his brief stint with North Harbour in 2006 and has been focusing largely on his work as a global ambassador for adidas.
Fiona took over management duties from Welshman Phil Kingsley-Jones and can expect a significant financial settlement once the pair part.
- Sunday News