Remembering the late, great Lomu

Jonah Lomu, left, and Ajay Bhai Amrit during an interview. Picture: SUPPLIED

IT has been over three years since rugby superstar Jonah Lomu passed away peacefully at the young age of just 40 years old in the city of Auckland close to the place of his birth.

Lomu, despite living with his life threatening illness (nephrotic syndrome a serious kidney disorder) which was diagnosed when he was just 20 years old after representing the mighty All Blacks at the 1995 Rugby World Cup, went on to have a stellar career.

In fact in my opinion and that of many rugby pundits, he would be the first and only rugby player to ever transcend the sport and be known globally outside of rugby.

During his heyday of the late 1990s and early 2000, when big Jonah was playing there would be a huge groundswell of interest in the particular game, Test or international that he would be involved in.

In fact he was the one and only rugby poster boy during this era.

Looking back over the past few decades maybe only Jonny Wilkinson, England’s deadly precision kicker may have come close to being known as an attraction outside the game of rugby.

I feel there is no need for me to tell you about Lomu’s rugby statistics and the amount of tries he scored etc, as I believe if I just say he is a true rugby icon that would be enough, but it is Lomu the person we want to know.

The loving father, the kind-hearted individual and one always there to help out where he could.

Like all of us, he made his mistakes but during an hour long interview with him I warmed to his honesty and humility that many of us can be inspired by.

Despite all his fame and fortune, Jonah was really just like the guy next door, no frills just a decent and down to earth person, somebody you could meet at a bus stop and strike up a conversation with.

I remember discussing his health issues and Jonah being the perfect gentleman reminded me that there were so many other people suffering from much more serious ailments than his, which made me realise that he certainly didn’t feel sorry for himself despite the seriousness of his condition.

Remembering our interview, I politely asked if there where any questions or topics which were off limits and he very candidly told me, not at all, my life is an open book, what a refreshing individual.

After his death, I asked his compatriots Eric Rush and Richie McCaw what Lomu was really like.

Both were in agreement that he was indeed the worst nightmare you could possibly imagine on the field and a gentle giant off the field.

In fact they agreed that he was somewhat a reserved and humble individual who wouldn’t want to harm a soul in his private life. I think it is only right we leave the last word to a simple and hardworking New Zealander named Scottie Newman, who quite simply sums up our beloved Jonah, here is his testimony.

“Watching how you responded after your kidney transplant gave me hope and great inspiration for my dad when I gave him my kidney a couple of years ago. Sadly the disease that affected you took his life last year, but the inspiration I felt never left me.

“Year after year you never waivered in your love for others and also sharing your life as a public figure despite your illness.

“On the field you opened the world’s eyes — off it you opened their hearts, May God bless you and your loved ones, a true role model.”

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