One of the greats of the game – Jonah Lomu – died in Auckland yesterday from cardiac arrest. He was 40 years old.
Jonah burst on the scene during the 1995 Rugby World Cup and will forever be remembered for the way in which he demolished England in the semi final in South Africa.
Former All Black captain Tana Umaga provided a simple explanation when asked why Jonah Lomu captured the imagination of New Zealand and world rugby.
“He was unique,” said the Blues coach, who played alongside Lomu throughout their illustrious careers. “There’s never been another Jonah Lomu,” said Umaga in an interview with the New Zealand Herald
Many attempted to replicate Lomu’s impact, Umaga explained, but the imitators were nothing like the real thing, leaving Lomu’s legend to only grow after his death earlier today.
“Everyone’s tried to manufacture one,” Umaga said. “They’ve tried to put forwards out into the backs and tried to put someone on the wing who was the same size. But there was no one else like him. And, to be honest, there probably never will be.”
Lomu’s singular status also extended off the field, particularly after the 1995 Rugby World Cup, when his fame exploded in a similar fashion to how the hulking wing blew through so many opposing defences.
Lomu was perhaps the first rugby player to fully experience every facet of the newly-professional game, paving the way for so many others to follow his giant footsteps.
To watch the interview with Umaga, click here
Watch highlights of Jonah at the 1995 Rugby World Cup