Tuesday 22 August 2017

One final haka as All Blacks pay tribute to rugby giant Lomu

Maori war party performers move around Eden Park during a public memorial to remember New Zealand rugby legend Jonah Lomu in Auckland, New Zealand. (Brett Phibbs/New Zealand Herald via AP)
Maori war party performers move around Eden Park during a public memorial to remember New Zealand rugby legend Jonah Lomu in Auckland, New Zealand. (Brett Phibbs/New Zealand Herald via AP)
Widow of Jonah Lomu, Nadene Lomu is comforted by her two sons Brayley Lomu and Dhyreille Lomu, her mother Lois Kuiek and father Mervyn Kuiek during the Public Memorial for Jonah Lomu at Eden Park
The casket of late New Zealand All Blacks rugby legend Jonah Lomu is carried after a memorial service at Eden Park in Auckland on November 30, 2015
New Zealand winger Jonah Lomu scores a try against Ireland in the Rugby World Cup match in South Africa
Maori warriors run onto Eden Park
Former and current rugby and rugby league players, Steven Luatua, Ruben Wiki and Tana Umaga perform a haka at the Public Memorial for Jonah Lomu at Eden Park
Nadene Lomu, right, widow of Jonah Lomu, releases a dove as her father Mervyn Kuiek looks on at the public memorial for the former All Black at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand. (Hannah Peters/Pool Photo via AP)
The body of former All Black Jonah Lomu is carried off the pitch as Nadene Lomu, bottom, second left, widow of Lomu, kisses her son Dhyreille Lomu, bottom left, at the conclusion of the public memorial for the former All Black at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand. (Hannah Peters/Pool Photo via AP)
Former and present All Black's perform a Haka as former All Black Jonah Lomu's casket is carried out of Eden Park during his memorial service in Auckland, New Zealand. Reuters/Nigel Marple
Former All Black Jonah Lomu's casket is carried into Eden Park for his memorial service followed by his widow Nadene Lomu and her two sons, Brayley Lomu and Dhyreille Lomu in Auckland. Reuters/Nigel Marple
Former All Black Jonah Lomu's casket is carried into Eden Park for his memorial service in Auckland, November 30, 2015. REUTERS/Nigel Marple
Former All Black Jonah Lomu's widow Nadene Lomu and her two sons, Brayley Lomu and Dhyreille (left) Lomu drape a flag over Jonah's casket in Eden Park for his memorial service in Auckland. Reuters/Nigel Marple
Former All Black Jonah Lomu's casket is carried into Eden Park for his memorial service followed by his widow Nadene Lomu and her two sons, Brayley Lomu and Dhyreille Lomu in Auckland. Reuters/Nigel Marple

Mike Nesdale

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.

Irish Independent

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