WELLINGTON • Queen Elizabeth II offered her condolences over Jonah Lomu's death yesterday as the rugby legend's family revealed they were planning a send-off as big as the great man himself.
The family said they had been overwhelmed by a global "outpouring of love" after the charismatic winger died unexpectedly on Wednesday aged just 40. He is survived by his wife and two young sons.
Former All Blacks coach John Hart said feelings were so intense in Lomu's native New Zealand that Auckland's 50,000-capacity Eden Park stadium may be needed as a venue for a public memorial.
Flanked by the player's relatives outside the family's Auckland home, Hart said Prime Minister John Key's office had relayed condolences from the Queen to Lomu's widow Nadene.
"(She) has written to the Prime Minister specifically asking for a message to be sent to Nadene and the family to say how much she mourns the loss," Hart said.
Tributes for the man hailed as rugby's first global superstar have come from well beyond the sporting world, including Hollywood stars, politicians and the many charities he supported.
Hart also revealed more about Lomu's death, saying the latter had just returned to Auckland after "a magic time" at the Rugby World Cup hosted in England, which was won by the All Blacks.
Hart said the family enjoyed a stopover in Dubai. There were no signs when they arrived home of any issues with the chronic kidney disease that had plagued Lomu since his playing days.
"He went to bed on Tuesday night and he was fine; unfortunately, when they awoke mid-morning, they found him dead.
"He clearly had cardiac arrest," Hart said, adding that the heart seizure was undoubtedly related to his kidney condition.