One final haka as All Blacks pay tribute to rugby giant Lomu
Published 01/12/2015 | 02:30
Thousands of mourners have paid tribute to former All Blacks winger Jonah Lomu at the final public memorial for the rugby great, who died earlier this month aged 40.
World Rugby chairman Bernard Lapasset said Lomu was a giant whose contribution to rugby "cannot be overstated".
A private family burial service will be held in Auckland today for Lomu, who died on November 18.
The memorial opened with a traditional haka and powhiri, or welcome, performed by indigenous Maori representatives of Auckland's Ngati Whatua people.
Lomu's coffin was then borne into the stadium by pallbearers, including former All Blacks Michael Jones, Frank Bunce, Joeli Vidiri and Jerome Kaino, as well as New Zealand rugby league player Manu Vatuvei.
The coffin was followed by Lomu's wife Nadene, who wore a woven skirt - which is a traditional Tongan symbol of respect and mourning - and by Lomu's sons Brayley (6) six, and Dhyreille (5).
Former All Blacks coach John Hart recounted Lomu's almost 20-year battle with the debilitating kidney illness nephrotic syndrome, which eventually forced his retirement and is thought to have contributed to his death.
Mr Hart said Lomu's illness meant he played all of his career at only 80pc capacity. "It's frightening to think what he could have done on the field had he not played with such a huge medical handbrake," he said.