Umaga on one-of-a-kind Lomu

Date published: November 18 2015

Former All Black Tana Umaga has heaped praise on Jonah Lomu following the winger's sudden passing on Wednesday.

"There's never been another Jonah Lomu," Umaga told the New Zealand Herald.

"Everyone's tried to manufacture one. 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."

"He was a unique individual as well. He did live his life in a bit of a goldfish bowl, after that World Cup, and he did it really well. He understood the expectations on him, he understood the new guidelines in his life he had to live within.

"We sat on the outside seeing all the accolades he was getting but knowing that it came at a price. He let us know there was certain responsibilities to what you did and that's how he helped players – just letting them know the responsibility to becoming an All Black, of being in the spotlight. He kind of led the way in that."

Umaga added that even though there are a plethora of famous All Blacks that are renowned for their skills and presence on the field, Lomu is the player all rugby fans remember. 

"And he single-handedly, I believe, put rugby back on the map," said the Blues coach. 

"We've got to make sure we understand that and respect that. You go anywhere and, although the All Blacks are huge, the one player they talk about is Jonah Lomu. That's who they know."

The former centre also spoke of Lomu's generosity when it came to passing on his skills to other players.

"He's a very generous man, very generous with his time and generous with what he had, with his advice and the betterment of other players," said Umaga. 

"Those from his background, seeing what he achieved and what he's done for world rugby is huge."