Rugby Union and New Zealand legend Jonah Lomu has died at the age of just 40. Known as ‘the gentle giant of rugby’ Lomu passed away in his hometown of Auckland on Tuesday night.
He had been diagnosed with a serious and rare kidney condition in 1995 and received a transplant in 2004, however the organ stopped functioning in 2011.
The All Blacks hero scored 37 tries in 63 matches for his country from 1994 to 2002. After battling with these health issues for many years, he eventually retired from the sport in 2002, and since then has devoted himself to mentoring young players.
Childhood friend Tasha Tasmania has paid homage to Lomu by acknowledging his battling qualities, whilst talking about Auckland she remarked, “Growing up this area was saturated with gangs and crime but Jonah managed to escape that”. The inspiration that was inherent in Lomu is reflected by the fact that Wesley College, which was Lomu’s school, called a special assembly and produced a sentimental performance of the Haka upon hearing the tragic news.
Principal Steve Hargreaves has said, “When I heard the news it was like getting a punch in the stomach, it has really taken the wind out of the sails of the whole school”. Lomu became the youngest ever New Zealand player at the tender age of 19 and was widely regarded as one of the game’s greats.
TNT Sport Billy Rooney