All black rugby star Jonah Lomu has passed away at the age of 40.
Rugby’s first superstar was desperate for a second kidney transplant, but to the shock of the sporting world, lost his battle at the age of 40
Rugby’s gentle giant catapulted to world fame after the 1995 World Cup, and It seemed then that nothing could ever stop him, not even the rare kidney disorder known as nephrotic syndrome
A kidney transplant in 2004 fixed him for seven and a half years but his body rejected it in 2011 He had been undergoing dialysis ever since
However, John Mayhew, the former All Blacks doctor, confirmed the sad news on Wednesday morning
The former All Blacks wing was understood to have died in Auckland after holidaying in Dubai on his way back to New Zealand following the World Cup.
We take a moment here, to recall what made Jonah, the legend of the sport that he loved so much
Born of Tongan heritage and raised in Mangere, Lomu’s playing weight was officially listed at 119-kilograms to go with his 1.96-metre frame.
Lomu was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame in 2007, and the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2011.
His World Rugby honour came as New Zealand hosted the Rugby World Cup. Lomu was a star of the opening ceremony at Eden Park, but fell seriously ill after that.
He played 63 tests for the All Blacks between 1994 and 2002, scoring 37 tries. He shot to worldwide stardom at the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
Lomu’s rare combination of size, speed and power made him a game-changer when it came to the dynamics of the modern wing. While he drew criticism for some of his defensive work, his attacking game was unrivalled.
The highlight came in the 1995 World Cup semifinal against England in Cape Town when he ran in four tries, including his stunning effort where he literally ran over the top of English fullback Mike Catt. But he scored many memorable tries, some which no other wingers would have been capable of.
After an indifferent debut series against France in 1994 Lomu took the game by storm with the stunning World Cup campaign in South Africa in 1995.
He went on to play the 1999 World Cup as well and is the joint record try-scorer with South African wing Bryan Habana who was equalled his tally of 15 tries at this year’s tournament.
The accolades flowed for Lomu this year when his try over the top of Catt was judged to be the best in World Cup history. He was also labelled the World Cup’s “greatest player”, described as “rugby’s version of Muhammad Ali, a heavyweight with global reach”.
A humble Habana said he didn’t want to be rated alongside Lomu who had been his childhood idol.
“I don’t think I can ever be compared to Jonah. The way he changed the game, you know he was a class act,” Habana said.
Lomu attracted attention as a teenaged star at Wesley College and made his initial impact in sevens rugby. He continued dallying in sevens despite his growing prowess in the 15-man game and won a gold medal at the 1998 Commonwealth Games.
Starting out with Counties-Manukau, Lomu went on to play provincial rugby for Wellington and North Harbour.
He later played for Cardiff and Marseille as he tried to battle back despite his ongoing health issues.
His Super Rugby career started at the Blues and took in the Chiefs and Hurricanes.
Lomu’s legend was transferred to the big screen in 2013 when he was the subject of Anger Within, a biographic documentary. This year a movie titled Back To South Africa was released, reliving his 1995 World Cup deeds.
He also lent his name to video games Jonah Lomu Rugby and Rugby Challenge.
LOMU ~ The Maths
- 63 tests
- Debut on June 26, 1994 vs France in Chch aged 19 (then youngest ever AB)
- Last test on Nov 23, 2002 vs Wales at Cardiff aged 27
- 185 test points, 37 tries
- AB number 941
- Comm Games gold in 1998 at KL
- 185 first-class games, 122 tries
- 59 Super Rugby games between Blues (22), Canes (29) and Chiefs (8)
Lomu is survived by his wife Nadene and their young sons Brayley (6) and Dhyreille (5)