Jonah Lomu, the giant loved by all

Date published: November 18 2015

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Rugby is in mourning after the loss of its brightest star. 

Even when battling through his illness Jonah Lomu was always a giant, in spirit if not always in body.

Stop and think how many of the game's top professionals have been inspired to take up the sport by the sight of New Zealand's rampaging number 11.

Feared by those playing against him, adored by the rest watching on. Unstoppable with the ball in hand and yet one of the nicest, most humble men off the field.

His four tries against England in the 1995 Rugby World Cup semi-final redefined the level of athleticism required to reach the very top of the game.

Lomu's performances at that World Cup also meant rugby stumbled upon not just a player of unrivalled brilliance but the sport's first marketing phenomenon, loved not just for his stature but also his winning smile.

He embraced the resulting fame that stemmed from bulldozing through tackler after tackler, when others might have shied away from it.

It mustn't be forgotten that as well as being adored by the world of rugby Lomu leaves behind a wife and two young sons. These words to the Daily Mail back in August, before Lomu appeared regularly as an ambassador at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, hit harder now.

"My goal is to make it to the boys’ 21sts," he said.

"There are no guarantees that will happen, but it’s my focus. It’s a milestone that every parent wants to get to.

"My dad died young and that makes you think. I want my boys to be healthy and if they get to 21, they should be fit and healthy and live a normal life."

Should they ever ask about their old man then they will only hear songs of praise.

His illness has robbed his family of more time just as it always affected his playing ability, having been diagnosed with a kidney disorder around the time he came storming into the world's consciousness.

If Lomu achieved greatness playing "with the handbrake on", as he put it, just imagine what might have been.

To this day he remains the greatest name the sport has ever produced. The outpouring of emotional tributes from every corner of the globe tell you as much.

He was bigger than rugby. An icon, who will be sorely missed.

by Ben Coles

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