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Jonah Lomu: All Blacks forever

hakaNew Zealand All Blacks’ legend Jonah Lomu died, aged 40, at his Auckland home overnight after returning from Dubai on Tuesday, where he had been holidaying after the Rugby World Cup. Former All Blacks doctor John Mayhew said Lomu’s cause of death was still uncertain but was most probably related to his renal [kidney] failure. Lomu battled kidney disorders since the end of 1995 when he was diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome. He had a kidney transplant in 2004.

A look back at the career of Jonah Lomu

Born of Tongan heritage and raised in Mangere, Jonah Lomu’s playing weight was officially listed at 119-kilograms to go with his 1.96-metre frame.

He attracted attention as a teenage star when at Wesley College he made his initial impact in sevens rugby. He continued this dallying in sevens despite his growing prowess in the 15-man game and even 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.


In 2007 Lomu was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame while he made it to the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2011. He earned his World Rugby honour when New Zealand hosted the Rugby World Cup in 2011 and he led the All Blacks to the trophy.

Between 1994 and 2002 Lomu played 63 tests, scoring 37 tries. He shot to worldwide stardom at the 1995 Rugby World Cup with his rare combination of size, speed and power making him a game-changer on the modern rugby wing. He did draw criticism for some of his defensive work, but his attacking game remained unrivalled.

He shares the record for highest try-scorer with South African wing Bryan Habana who equalled Lomu’s tally of 15 tries (from the 1999 World Cup) at this year’s tournament. A humble Habana, though, said he didn’t want to be rated alongside Lomu, 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.

Accolades flowed in for Lomu at this year’s World Cup 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”.

Lomu’s sporting legend was replicated on the big screen in a 2013 biographic documentary called Anger Within.


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