The rugby union world is in shock with the death of former New Zealand winger Jonah Lomu at the age of 40, this morning.
Former All-Blacks doctor John Mayhew informed the media about Lomu’s death.
“On behalf of the Lomu family, I can confirm that Jonah Lomu died this morning, most probably about eight or nine this morning” Mayhew said.
“The family are obviously devastated, as are friends and acquaintances.
“The family have requested privacy at this stage, they are obviously going through a terrible time.”
Lomu had suffered kidney issues for the past 20 years and was diagnosed with nephritic syndrome. In 2004, he received a glimmer of hope with a kidney transplant but tragically lost his battle today.
The gentle giant had a stellar career which started at the age of 18, representing the New Zealand U19’s in 1993. He then went on to be youngest player to play for the All-Blacks in 1994. His running was damaging as he ripped through defenders with his strength and speed. His greatest highlight was playing in the 1995 World Cup where he scored seven tries in five matches.
The Australia Rugby Union’s CEO Bill Pulver today paid tribute to Lomu in an official media release, calling him a genuine superstar.
“I speak on behalf of the entire Australian Rugby community in expressing our deep sadness today after the passing of one of our game’s greatest ever players,” he said.
“There will never be another Jonah Lomu. He was Rugby’s first genuine superstar and as well as being an extraordinary Rugby player he was also an exceptional man who gave everything to the game and his community in Auckland.
“Jonah’s legacy will live forever in our game, and indeed all over the world.”
Lomu played 63 games for the All-Blacks scoring 185 points from 1994-2002. In 2011 he was inducted into the IRB Rugby Hall of Fame and cemented his spot as one the greatest players in rugby history.
Tributes for Jonah Lomu have erupted on social media.
Devastated the greatest ever has passed away! The worlds in mourning for such an amazing talent yet genuine & humble human. R.I.P Jonah Lomu
— James O'Connor (@JamesOConnor832) November 18, 2015
— Wallabies (@Wallabies) November 18, 2015
RIP Jonah Lomu. Feared by all, LOVED by ALL. To play against and with you was a huge honour. You put Rugby on the global stage. Prayers
— Tim Horan (@TimHoran12) November 18, 2015
Report compiled by Jesse Mullens
Top photo of Jonah Lomu from Global Sports Forum’s Flickr photostream.