WELLINGTON (REUTERS) - All Blacks great Jonah Lomu, who revolutionised wing play to become rugby's first global superstar, died on Wednesday in Auckland at the age of 40.
Lomu collapsed and died at his Auckland home early on Wednesday morning after returning from Dubai on Tuesday, where he had been holidaying after being at the Rugby World Cup in Britain. Paramedics were called but he was unable to be resuscitated.
Here is his background in brief:
- Born May 12, 1975 in Auckland.
- Of Tongan heritage, he grew up in Mangere, one of the poorer areas of Auckland.
- Witnessed the death of a cousin in a machete attack in a shopping mall in South Auckland and sent to Tonga.
- Attended Wesley College in Pukekohe, where he excelled on the sports field, running a sub 11-second 100m and making the school's top rugby side in the fourth form, gaining national selections in age-group teams as a rampaging number eight.
- Selected for the New Zealand sevens side for the 1994 Hong Kong sevens tournament where he piqued the interest of All Blacks' coach Laurie Mains.
- Became the youngest All Blacks Test player aged 19 years 45 days against France where he looked totally lost on the wing and exposed by Emile Ntamack.
WORLD CUP (1995) :
- Included in pre-World Cup training camps, the 1.96m tall and 120kg winger was considered woefully unfit for the fast-paced game plan favoured by Mains and ordered to improve his fitness.
- Named in the World Cup squad, making his first appearance against Ireland, scoring two tries.
- Exploded onto the world stage with four tries against England, including one where he was off-balance but still managed to trample over the top of England fullback Mike Catt for a score that left many speechless.
- Reportedly considered offers from National Football League teams after the World Cup, but signed with the New Zealand Rugby Union as the game went professional.
- Became a certainty in subsequent All Blacks teams but performances began tapering off in 1998 as the effects of the debilitating nephritic syndrome attacked his kidneys.
- Named in 1999 World Cup squad, scoring six tries through the tournament and then was at his rampaging best with two more tries in the semi-final against France, who stormed back in the second half to secure a 43-31 upset victory.
- Continued to battle with the disease until 2001 when his performances and emergence of other players had made him a squad rather than starting player. Played his final Test match against Wales in November 2002 having scored 37 tries for his country.
- Underwent a transplant in 2004 when a kidney was donated by personal friend and attempted a return to rugby.
- Played in England captain Martin Johnson's testimonial match in June 2005 but injured his shoulder while scoring a try in the match. Subsequent surgery ruled him out of playing for North Harbour in New Zealand's provincial championship.
- Joined Cardiff Blues on a short-term contract but broke an ankle in April 2006 and returned to New Zealand with hopes of getting a Super Rugby contract and making the 2007 World Cup squad.
- Failed to secure a Super Rugby contract and retired in 2007, though did make a number of appearances for clubs in Britain and France until 2009.
- Heavily involved as an ambassador for the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand, although his donated kidney began to fail and he was forced to undergo dialysis again while waiting for another transplant.
- Returned to South Africa in 2015 to film a documentary on the impact of his 1995 exploits and also travelled to the Rugby World Cup in England.
- Arrived back in New Zealand on Nov 17, but died unexpectedly the following day. He was 40.