Monday 5 December 2016

All Blacks legend Jonah Lomu (40) dies following cardiac arrest

Published 18/11/2015 | 00:27

A well-wisher signs a condolence book at New Zealand Rugby Union headquarters following All Black legend Jonah Lomu's death.
A well-wisher signs a condolence book at New Zealand Rugby Union headquarters following All Black legend Jonah Lomu's death.
Jonah Lomu celebrates the New Zealand sevens Gold medal in the Commonwealth games. Photo: Getty Images
Jonah Lomu, taking on Fiji in 1998, honed his skills playing Sevens. Photo: Laurence Griffiths / Allsport
Jonah Lomu

Jonah Lomu wanted to be alive to see his sons turn 21, the rugby superstar said in his final big interview, only four months ago as the sporting world mourns his passing following cardiac arrest.

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Lomu passed away at the age of 40 on Wednesday morning after a long battle with a rare kidney disease and former All Blacks team doctor John Mayhew has confirmed that the rugby legend died of a heart attack at his home in Auckland.

The wing, who played 63 Test matches for the All Blacks, had suffered from health problems since his retirement from the game in 2002 due to the kidney disease. A kidney transplant in 2004 fixed him for seven and a half years but his body rejected it in 2011.

"My goal is to make it to the boys’ 21sts," he told the Daily Mail in August.

"There are no guarantees that will happen, but it’s my focus.

"It’s a milestone that every parent wants to get to. My dad died young and that makes you think."

A tweet from New Zealand Rugby chief Steve Tew read: "We're all shocked and deeply saddened at the sudden death of Jonah Lomu."

The New Zealand Rugby tweet from Tew continued: "We're lost for words and our heartfelt sympathies go out to Jonah's family.

"Jonah was a legend of our game and loved by his many fans both here and around the world."

Lomu, who made his All Blacks debut in 1994, made a significant impact at the 1995 World Cup.

Jonah Lomu goes past James Simpson-Daniel of England during the England v New Zealand Investec Challenge match on 09 November, 2002 at Twickenham. Photo: Getty Images
Jonah Lomu goes past James Simpson-Daniel of England during the England v New Zealand Investec Challenge match on 09 November, 2002 at Twickenham. Photo: Getty Images
Jonah Lomu
Jonah Lomu evades the diving tackle of Rob Andrew of England during the Rugby World Cup Semi Final at the Newlands Stadium in Cape Town, South Africa. New Zealand won the match 45-29. Photo: Simon Bruty /Allsport
George Gregan of Australia falls of Jonah Lomu during the match between Australia v New Zealand for the Bledisloe Cup at Stadium Australia, Sydney Australia. New Zealand won 39-35. Photo: Nick Wilson/ALLSPORT
Jonah Lomu, New Zealand, is tackled by Ireland's Denis Hickie in 2001
New Zealand's Jonah Lomu (C) runs over England's Neil Back. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Lomu in action against Australia's George Gregan in 2001. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Jonah Lomu in 1995. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Jonah Lomu (C) in action against Australia. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
New Zealand rugby star Jonah Lomu (2nd R) pushes out of the tackle of Fijian captain Saimoni Rikoni (L) in 1998. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Jonah Lomu was regarded as rugby's first global superstar before kidney disease ended his career. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
18 Jun 1995: Jonah Lomu charges through the tackle of England's Mike Catt to score a try during the 1995 Rugby World Cup Semi Final
Jonah Lomu of New Zealand dives over for the try during the 1995 Rugby World Cup match against England. Photo: Dave Rogers /Allsport
Lomu posed for a photo during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Final between New Zealand and Australia at Twickenham Stadium. Photo: Getty Images
Jonah Lomu played 63 Tests for New Zealand, scoring 37 tries. Photo: David Rogers/ALLSPORT
Jul 1999: Jonah Lomu of the New Zealand All Blacks in Queenstown, New Zealand. Photo: Mark Dadswell /Allsport
All Blacks legend Jonah Lomu has passed away aged 40. Photo: Getty Images
Jonah Lomu of Cardiff participates in a Cardiff Blues training session before the Heineken European Cup match between Calvisano and Cardiff Blues on December 10, 2005 in Calvisano, Italy. Photo: Getty Images

He played for several domestic teams - Auckland Blues, Chiefs and Hurricanes in Super Rugby, as well as North Harbour, Counties Manukau and Wellington.

He also had a stint with Cardiff Blues, for whom he played 10 matches for from 2005-06, before retiring from the game in 2007.

Jonah Lomu goes past James Simpson-Daniel of England during the England v New Zealand Investec Challenge match on 09 November, 2002 at Twickenham. Photo: Getty Images
Jonah Lomu goes past James Simpson-Daniel of England during the England v New Zealand Investec Challenge match on 09 November, 2002 at Twickenham. Photo: Getty Images

He was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame in 2007 and the IRB Hall of Fame four years later.

Irish rugby legend Brian O'Driscoll has credited Lomu with transforming the game of rugby and admitted that the New Zealander was simply unstoppable at the height of his playing powers and recalled the daunting task of facing the giant winger in memorable clash in 2001.

The home side unexpectedly led the All Blacks 21-7 in the second half, but a comeback led by Lomu ensured the visitors avoided a first-ever defeat to Ireland.

"I remember in that game being left one-on-one with him," he said. "There was inevitability about what was going to happen. I was only five or six yards out from the line and I knew that I was only going to be a road bump. Someone else was going to have to come in and finish the job off.

Jonah Lomu celebrates the New Zealand sevens Gold medal in the Commonwealth games. Photo: Getty Images
Jonah Lomu celebrates the New Zealand sevens Gold medal in the Commonwealth games. Photo: Getty Images

"Once they got the ball into Jonah's hands, against someone that was five foot 10, simple physics would tell you there is only going to be one winner.

"He ran over the top of me and scored a try and that was part of their comeback.

Many of the sport's big names took to social media to pay tribute to someone who was in the United Kingdom for the recent Rugby World Cup, which was won by the All Blacks.

Former New Zealand captain Sean Fitzpatrick took to Twitter to say: "Our thoughts are with the @JONAHTALILOMU family tonight. A very special person. @AllBlacks."

Dan Carter, the recently crowned World Rugby Player of the Year after playing a key role in New Zealand's second successive World Cup triumph, had a touching message on his social media account.

"I still can't believe the sad news. Love & thoughts go out to Jonah's family," he wrote.

"Would of done anything to have played a test with him. Gone way too soon my brother."

And former Wales fly-half Jonathan Davies said: "Can't believe that Jonah Lomu has passed away. Was with him and his wife and family for an evening last month. So sad, life is so cruel.

"RIP Jonah you were a true legend and a gentleman. You changed the game of rugby and will be sorely missed. My thoughts are with your family."

New Zealand prime minister John Key was also quick to pay tribute to Auckland-born Lomu - who is best remembered for scoring seven tries in five matches at the 1995 World Cup - including four in the semi-final against England in Cape Town.

Key tweeted: "Deeply saddened to hear of Jonah Lomu's unexpected passing this morning. The thoughts of the entire country are with his family."

The All Blacks winger was diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome in 1996 and later had a kidney transplant in 2004 before it failed in 2011.

Here is more Twitter reaction to the news of the death of one of rugby union's greats:

"Deeply saddened to hear of Jonah Lomu's unexpected passing this morning. The thoughts of the entire country are with his family" - New Zealand prime minister John Key.

"Our thoughts are with the @JONAHTALILOMU family tonight. A very special person. @AllBlacks" - former New Zealand captain Sean Fitzpatrick.

"I am so, so devastated to hear of the passing away of @JONAHTALILOMU The greatest superstar and just a fabulous human being. Deeply saddened" - former England international Jonny Wilkinson.

"The All Black in Blue. Rugby's first global superstar... a friend we will miss always #RIPJonah #legend #alwaysablue" - one of Lomu's former clubs, Cardiff Blues.

"Can't believe that Jonah Lomu has passed away. Was with him and his wife and family for an evening last month. So sad, life is so cruel. RIP Jonah you were a true legend and a gentleman. You changed the game of rugby and will be sorely missed. My thoughts are with your family" - former Wales fly-half Jonathan Davies.

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