By CAM WARU.
Father. Husband. Friend. Hero. Man. Myth. Legend.
Jonah Tali Lomu, the all-time great All Black and Kiwi icon has passed away. The news has swept through social media, and collectively the nation mourns this sudden and tragic loss.
Lomu, of Tongan descent, was born in Auckland and attended Wesley College. He started his rugby career playing for Counties Manukau, then moved on to the Hurricanes, Blues and Chiefs with a couple of caps for Wainuiomata and 63 caps for the All Blacks in between.
He was considered ’rugby union’s biggest drawcard’ and was one of the all-time top try-scorers in the 1995 Rugby World Cup. He was also, in my opinion, the greatest asset for the All Blacks, as a lot of their playbook probably consisted of: “when in doubt, pass it to Jonah!”
At the end of 1995, Lomu was diagnosed with Nephrotic Syndrome, a serious kidney disorder which put a strong hold on his career, then later caused severe nerve damage to his feet and legs. In 2004, Lomu underwent a kidney transplant in Auckland. The kidney was donated by radio presenter Grant Kereama.
There was even a video game named after the man himself, Jonah Lomu Rugby, a PlayStation 1 sports game. Facing off against any team, I would pass the ball to Lomu and continuously tap the BUNT button all the way to the try line – and no player could touch him.
Jonah was the pinnacle of rugby greatness, for all young Kiwi rugby players and international players alike. He was who you wanted to be when you grew up. He was the one who influenced many (including myself) to shave a line in their eyebrow and shave their head, leaving a small tuft of hair at the front. He was the one who inspired a nation to believe in themselves no matter the circumstance. He was the one who encouraged me – and so many others – to play rugby. He was the people’s hero and he will be sadly missed.
Rest easy, brother.