New Zealand vow to honour Jonah Lomu's memory by putting Ireland to the sword
Published 18/11/2016 | 16:24
New Zealand captain Kieran Read has admitted that Jonah Lomu’s memory will play heavily on the players' mind when they take to the pitch at the Aviva tomorrow.
Today marks the first anniversary of the passing of the All Black legend and the current group of players are determined to honour him in the best possible manner by beating Ireland.
Lomu tragically passed away aged 40 last year after he suffered a heart attack which was caused by the long-term kidney disease that he battled with.
“We have spoken about it as a group,” Read said.
“He is one our legends in this All Black environment and family. We feel for his family at this time of the year. It is one thing that provides extra motivation for the group playing for him and his family.
“There are other things at home as well. The earthquake is on a lot of the guys’ minds as well. The best way we can do that (pay tribute) is to go out and perform on the pitch.”
Read admitted that Lomu was a “massive inspiration” for him growing up and the number eight is expecting his side to put in a performance that will be fitting of his memory.
“To me, he is a massive inspiration. He is the reason why I play footy. I grew up in the area where he was from and played his footy. I went to watch him every weekend, so a massive inspiration for me and a lot of the guys.
“He is more a legend of what he did on the pitch, but for me it was his smile and everything he did off it that was great. So he was a top man.”
The defeat to Ireland in Chicago two weeks ago was the first time that the All Blacks captain tasted defeat since he took over the responsibility.
The No 8 is determined not to let lighting strike twice in Dublin tomorrow and he admitted that the rematch against Ireland would be his side’s toughest test of the year.
“I think it probably is at this stage of our year. Certainly the loss magnifies this game and puts it into a massive perspective so we know the challenge that’s ahead of us so the guys have prepared really well.
“What we can’t do is suddenly change everything we’ve done so far this year. We’ve got a good recipe. I know the boys have prepared as well as we can do and it’s a game we’re really excited about tomorrow.
“It probably is, coming off a loss, it’s the first time I’ve done that, so certainly there’s a different mindset, but this is what you play this game for. These moments these stadiums against the top teams in the world, so I can’t wait for it."