Jonah Lomu

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Jonah was considered to be the first truly global superstar of rugby and the biggest wing three-quarter ever to be seen with opponents quite unable to hold him. As well as being strong he was also fast and agile as he bulldozed past defenders and left them trailing in his wake. He scored 37 tries (185 points) for his country. He was called ‘rugby’s biggest draw-card’. He played for several different New Zealand clubs and provinces and came to Cardiff to play ten times for the Blues in Wales. However, he suffered a kidney disorder in 1995 and by 2003 was on dialysis and had a kidney transplant become a ‘Kidney Kids New Zealand Ambassador’. It prematurely ended his career and after a heart attack he died suddenly. His parents were Tongan and at school in Auckland he became an all-round athlete, including running the 100 metres in 11.2 seconds. After beginning as a forward he switched to the wing and aged 19 years and 45 days in 1994, he was the youngest player to be capped by New Zealand. His career at Cardiff ended quickly due to a broken ankle, but he played charity rugby, including a game at Port Talbot. He learned to speak several languages, including Russian, being called ‘the freight train in ballet shoes’. Three marriages, medical bills and failed business ventures meant he died with little money.