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Old 18-11-15, 18:39   #1
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Football Rugby Legend Jonah Lomu Dies>Only 40yrs old

JONAH LOMU (1975-2015): He was Brought up to Respect his Opponent and Never Talked Himself up Despite his Heroics. The Human Race has been Robbed of a Gentle Giant, and Rugby of its most Beloved Ambassador

  • New Zealand rugby legend Jonah Lomu passed away on Wednesday
  • 20 years ago, Lomu burst onto the scene by scoring four tries vs England
  • Former Daily Mail Rugby Correspondent Peter Jackson has his say on icon
  • There are many imitators but there will never be another like him
Daily Mail UK, 18 November 2015

He will forever tower above the rest for several reasons, not least as the only man in any theatre of modern sport to destroy England on an inter-continental scale.

A few untouchables in other fields had set a suitably colossal standard. Dennis Lillee ran through England's batting in the Seventies, more often than not with an even faster Australian bowler, Jeff Thomson, as his partner in crime.
Jonah Lomu, more often than not, flattened England on his own.

Jonah Lomu (1975-2015) is a rugby union legend forever tower above the rest for several reasons

Dennis Lillee and Australia ran through England's batting while Diego Maradona still haunts English football

Jonah Lomu often flattened England on his own and never cheated - he was brought up to respect his opponent

Diego Maradona still haunts English football almost 30 years after knocking Bryan Robson's team out of the World Cup with the notorious 'Hand of God' goal.

Jonah Lomu never cheated, not because he didn't have to but because he had been brought up to respect his opponent.

Those of a Red Rose hue whom he tore asunder in the mid-to-late Nineties will shudder to think what more mayhem he might have caused had he shown them a little disrespect.

Lomu blew through Will Carling's Grand Slam team in Cape Town 20 years ago, flattening the champions of Europe in a World Cup semi-final as though they had been made of balsa wood. As introductions go, his four tries took some swallowing a role-reversal of the Old Testament story about Jonah and the whale only this time the big fish was the one who did the disappearing.

Wherever England ran into him thereafter, Lomu had a field day or, if he didn't, the All Blacks did. From Old Trafford to the 'House of Pain' in Dunedin, Twickenham to the Garden of Eden in Auckland, Lomu wrought havoc.
Nobody had ever made an England team of heavy hitters like Brian Moore, Jason Leonard, Martin Johnson and Dean Richards look as small as Lomu made them look on that riotous June day at Newlands. England simply never saw him coming.

Lomu blew threw England in Cape Town 20 years ago, flattening Will Carling's side in a World Cup semi-final

Lomu performs a haka in London with a Maori Club during an event before the Rugby World Cup this year

The 40-year-old passed away on Wednesday after a cardiac arrest, he suffered with a serious kidney condition

As the All Blacks feigned to kick off to the right and Carling's men drifted across, Jack Rowell sensed that they would switch to the left and send Lomu careering forth. From his vantage point in the front row of the stand, England's manager never had a hope of making himself heard before Lomu unleashed his unique brand of rolling thunder.

He had only turned 20 three weeks earlier and yet the shy Polynesian kid from the wrong side of the tracks in South Auckland swiftly discovered that his life would never be the same again. During a break in preparation for the final in Johannesburg later that week, he went out to buy a tube of toothpaste in the upmarket suburb of Sandton.

Like a latter-day Pied Piper, Lomu found that virtually everyone in the same shopping mall had followed him into the chemist's. 'So there I was,' he recalled years later. 'Stuck out at the back in the storage cupboard waiting for the security guys to clear a passage so I could get back to my hotel.'

The Dallas Cowboys American football franchise offered him a fortune large enough to buy a whole toothpaste factory. Figures were bandied about, from $6million dollars all the way up to $10m.

Television companies swamped him with handsome deals to make easier money through commercials based around a recreation of his runaway freight train hitting England in general and their makeshift full back, Mike Catt. Lomu knocked them all back.

The Dallas Cowboys American football franchise offered him a fortune, perhaps even $10million dollars

He was offered easy money for commercials based on his hit on Mike Catt in 1995, but declined

Lomu respected his fellow player and had a natural aversion to self-promotion

Lomu greets Queen Elizabeth as the New Zealand team visited Buckingham Palace in 1997

'You know why I did that?' he said when the subject cropped up years later. 'Because I didn't want to be making something out of 'Catty's' misery.'

Catt, if memory serves me right, would have been in favour of hamming it up for a commercial. He had, after all, been publicly humiliated in a World Cup semi-final as an unpaid victim in the final days of amateurism and a few bob would have eased the pain.

The anecdote speaks volumes about Lomu's respect for his fellow player. It also says something about his natural aversion to self-promotion, a lifelong refusal to talk himself up which probably comes from his upbringing during a tough childhood when his sheer size guaranteed immunity from the street bullies of South Auckland.

'My mother is the only person I'm scared of,' he would say with a giggle. 'She clips me around the ear if I get too big for my boots.'

There was never any danger of that. He bore a striking similarity in so many aspects to the most revered of all Welsh footballers, John Charles of Leeds and Juventus, the prototype 'Gentle Giant.'

Both came from blue collar backgrounds, big men blessed with a balletic lightness of touch on their feet. Neither, for all the fame, lost his humility, nor their self-discipline on the field. There was, though, one difference, a cruel one which probably explains why one lived into his 73rd year and the other barely reached his 40th.

Lomu spoke to Sportsmail ahead of this year's World Cup, 20 years after he was catapulted to world fame

How many tries would Lomu have scored had it not been for the kidney disease diagnosed in 1996

The most staggering thing about Lomu was not how many tries he scored (37 in 63 Tests) but how many more he would have scored had it not been for the kidney disease diagnosed one year after his game-changing advent at the 1995 World Cup in South Africa.

The most amazing admission of all about the Cape Town game came from the man himself four years ago during a long chat on the island paradise of Waiheke some 40 minutes by boat out of Auckland.

'You know, I was about 50 per cent fit that day,' he said, raising the mind-blowing spectre that, fully fit, he might have scored eight. 'The condition meant that I was constantly tired.

'I had to fight for as much energy as everyone else and because nobody knew of the problem, except for the doctor, people thought I was being lazy.

'A normal red blood cell count is 120. I was lucky before the transplant to have 90. Sometimes it made me feel like I was dragging a tyre behind me when I ran.'

Despite the demoralising handicap, the stricken Lomu blew through England in his last match at Twickenham in November 2002. He still scored two tries before it took several England players to stop him adding a third and saving a largely All Black reserve team from losing by a whisker.

Weeks later, it was all over at the age of 27. When he ought to have been in his pomp, Jonah embarked instead on the ultimate fight to stay alive. As his condition, nephrotic syndrome, deteroriated, a courageous Wellington disc jockey, Grant Kereama, donated one of his kidneys.

Seven years later, on Waiheke Island, Lomu felt in such robust health that he revealed plans to make a come-back as a boxer and how he had another New Zealander, former world contender David Tua, as his trainer.

'I've been fighting all my life,' he said. 'Now I'm learning to box. I know I'll get hit but I've never been a quitter. And fitness is no longer a problem.'

Within a matter of days, he had been forced to abandon his plans, floored by his body's rejection of the transplanted kidney. Dialysis, more than ever, became a daily way of life and still he rose above it all, most recently and most magnificently at the World Cup just ended.

Nobody who saw his friendly face and enjoyed beaming bonhomie imagined he had so little time left, that he would never fulfill his last great ambition to see his sons Brayley (6) and Dhyreille (5) grow into men.

Jonah Lomu's death way before his time has robbed the boys of a father, the human race of a gentle giant and his sport of its most beloved ambassador.
There are many imitators but there will never be another like him.

Lomu had plans to box but had to abandon his plans, floored by his body's rejection of the transplanted kidney
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