Thousands pay tribute to Lomu at Eden Park

Date published: November 30 2015

All Black legend Jonah Lomu was farewelled by thousands at a special memorial service at Eden Park in Auckland on Monday.

It was the final public memorial for the rugby great who passed away at the age of 40 on November 18.

The memorial service was opened by a traditional Maori welcome, the haka powhiti, which was performed by the Ngati Whatua warriors.

Among those in attendance included Lomu’s wife Nadene and their two children, team-mates including Jeff Wilson, Josh Kronfeld, Justin Marshall and Tana Umaga, the Blues Super Rugby squad, former Wallaby opponents George Gregan and Tim Horan, and World Rugby chairman Bernard Lapasset.

Lomu's coffin was carried from the stage at the end of the ceremony by pallbearers including All Blacks Michael Jones, Frank Bunce, Joeli Vidiri and Jerome Kaino and New Zealand rugby league star Manu Vatuvei.

Lapasset paid tribute to the impact Lomu had on rugby and said he will always be remembered in the game's folklore.

“He will be forever be a big part of rugby’s story,” he said.

“He will be greatly missed and fondly remembered. His contribution to rugby cannot be overstated.”

Lomu's former coach at Wesley College Chris Grinter also spoke of the young Lomu's brilliant sporting achievements at school.

"He was too big, too fast, too much," said Grinter.

Former All Blacks coach John Hart recalled Lomu's career as a professional rugby player.

Hart mentioned Lomu's almost 20-year battle with his kidney illness nephrotic syndrome which eventually forced him to retire and is thought to have played a role in his death.

"The most remarkable thing about Jonah was that he played his full career with his worsening kidney disorder," said Hart.

He only ever played at a physical level of 80 per cent health

"It's frightening to think what he could have done on the field had he not played with such a huge medical handbrake."