Jonah Lomu, Greatest All Black of all-time. Greatest All Blacks XV
On the date of his youngest son Dhyreille's birthday, Jonah has been named as the greatest All Black of all-time, along side Sir Bryan Williams and team mate, Christian Cullen by a panel of rugby experts and the Kiwi public.
The panel were unanimous in their verdict that Lomu, the game’s first and only global superstar, and Cullen, the 60-test veteran who played for the All Blacks between 1996 and 2002, were New Zealand’s greatest left wing and fullback.
Their verdict was supported by the Kiwi public, who voted Lomu (84 percent of the public vote) and Cullen (79 percent) as the best-ever All Blacks in their respective positions on social media.
In doing so, they cemented their places in the Greatest XV ahead of the likes ofJoe Rokocoko,Julian Savea, Ron Jarden, Mils Muliaina, George Nepia and Bob Scott.
At right wing, however, there was a three-way tie after the panel of experts couldn’t decide between Williams and Jeff Wilson, while the public backed the exploits of all-time leading All Blacks try-scorer Doug Howlett, who garnered 41 percent of the vote.
Former World Cup-winning All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry was called on as the “convener of selectors” to pick between the three players for the No 14 jersey, which resulted in Williams’ selection.
Regarded as a trailblazer of his time, Williams was spoken highly of by Laban for the impact he had off the field as a young Pacific Island player who touredSouth Africain the midst of Apartheid during the 1970s as an “honorary white”.
“1970, a young, Auckland, Pacific Island player, and a law student who was doing his studies out of Auckland University, called Bryan George Williams, was forced to tour South Africa, along with three other players, who was declared an honorary white,” Laban toldThe Breakdownlast week.
“In some ways, it’s a disgrace, but that image of BG in South Africa, at that time it was segregated, so those honorary whites weren’t allowed access to public transport, they weren’t allowed access to public health services – all of those things that come along with Apartheid.
“BG became a beacon of hope, a beacon for fairness, for justice, and for equality.”
Laban added: “He was so high-profile, he was so good, there was so much attention on him – unbelievable sidestep in the in-goal area to get that try under the posts in South Africa – but, in terms of the impact, changing the course of the history of our game, for me, Bryan Williams, the greatest right wing the game has seen.”
While Williams’ influence off the field was revolutionary, Lomu became an icon in his own right, so much so that many have argued that no rugby player has ever reached the level of fame or celebrity status that the late great achieved.
According to former All Blacks captain and Lomu’s ex-teammate Sean Fitzpatrick, no other player will ever reach Lomu’s star power.
“Jonah Lomu is the only global superstar we’ll ever have in rugby,” Fitzpatrick toldSky Sport.
“I don’t think there ever will be a player like Jonah where you can go to America or go toBraziland they know whoJonah Lomuis.”
Tana Umaga, another ex-All Blacks captain and former teammate of Lomu’s, saw first-hand how revered he was by international fans.
“When you walk downLeicesterSquare withJonah Lomu, buses stop, crowds start to form,” Umaga said.
“It was tough watching him go through that sometimes, and you kind of just get a gauge of how well-known is someone.”
Before he became an All Blacks teammate of Lomu’s, former two-time World Cup-winning captain Richie McCaw came up against him at provincial level in the early 2000s.
While playing forCanterburyagainst Wellington, McCaw soon realised how formidable of a player Lomu truly was.
“You look at guys that couldn’t tackle him, and I was going, ‘Surely you’ll be able to [tackle him] if you just get in low’, and I remember the first day I played against him. I tried tackling him twice, and I got nowhere near him,” McCaw said.
“My respect for everyone that had been shunted off went up a lot, I’ll tell ya.”
McCaw added things became much easier for him once he became teammates with Lomu rather than facing off against him.
“To have a guy like that alongside you, you’re like, ‘Man, this is easy’.”
Ex-All Blacks fullback Laurie Mains was the firstNew Zealandcoach to pick Lomu for the national squad, and he toldSky Sportthat a positional switch from loose forward to wing kickstarted the career of arguably the best player in rugby history.
“Jonah, simply, was the most dangerous rugby player I think that’s played the game. He could run around them, he could run over them, he could run inside them.” Mains, who handed a 19-year-old Lomu his All Blacks debut in 1994, said.
“He played in the Counties sevens team, and I’d already been told about how great this kid was, and he was a No 8.
“We watched him, Earl [Kirton, ex-All Blacks assistant coach] and I, and we talked about it, and then, almost together, we said, ‘How would he go on the wing?’
“As a loose forward, he wasn’t going to be much bigger, and certainly not tougher, than a lot of the top international loose forwards, so his great ability would be nullified to an extent.
“But, if we were good enough to develop him as a wing, then he could be something the world has never seen. Fortunately, that’s the way it turned out.”
John Hart, another All Blacks coach who Lomu played under, said that had the 63-test wing not have battled nephrotic syndrome throughout his career, the world would have seen an even greater version of the player he already was.
“We never saw him in his peak. We never saw that. He was at 60, 70, 80 percent of his ability when he had his illness,” Hart said.
“If he had ever been able to go to 100 percent, so he didn’t have that [illness], what would we have seen? We saw a colossus as he was, but I think he could have achieved even greater things than we saw. That’s how good he was.”
Cullen, meanwhile, was described by Mains as the “most exciting fullback” he had ever seen during his seven-year spell in the All Blacks between 1996 and 2002.
All Blacks Greatest XV
1. Tony Woodcock (118 tests from 2002-2015) 2. Sean Fitzpatrick (92 tests from 1986-1997) 3. Ken Gray (24 tests from 1963-1969) 4. Colin Meads (55 tests from 1957-1971) 5.Brodie Retallick (86 tests from 2012-present) 6. Michael Jones (56 tests from 1986-1998) 7. Richie McCaw (148 tests from 2001-2015) 8. Zinzan Brooke (58 tests from 1987 to 1997) 9. Aaron Smith (101 tests from 2012-present) 10. Dan Carter (112 tests from 2003-2015) 11. Jonah Lomu (63 tests from 1994-2002) 12. Ma’a Nonu (103 tests from 2003-2015) 13. Conrad Smith (94 tests from 2004-2015) 14. Bryan Williams (38 tests from 1970-1978) 15. Christian Cullen (60 tests from 1996-2002)
Former England winger saw up close Lomu's devastating impact in unforgettable 1995 RWC semi-final
When Jonah Lomu charged at you at full pelt, there often wasn’t much you could do to stop him – as England found out to our cost in that memorable semi-final in the 1995 World Cup.
Lomu was the fiercest of opponents. His speed, once he got going, his sheer size and the length of his stride meant that he was a difficult man to bring down.
A player who in that match swatted my brother Tony off “like a fly”, as one commentator put it, before storming through attempted tackles by Will Carling and Mike Catt was always going to be remembered by those who love rugby for a long time after the final whistle blew.
Yet Lomu, who has died so tragically young at the age of 40, leaving behind a wife and two young sons, was not just a big guy who ran fast. He was both of those things on the pitch, yes, but he was also supremely skillful. It was this combination – his power and his technical mastery – that made him stand out in the sport.
At the time, I didn’t really take it on board: there were 14 other All Blacks on the pitch that day. Amid all the running and tackling, he just seemed to keep reaching the try line – again and again.
Overall it wasn’t even as if England played that badly – Will Carling and I scored two tries apiece in the second half – but the truth is we had been thumped in the first 20 minutes. Lomu matched us both with four tries of his own.
Looking back on that match, particularly watching replays of his tries, and seeing him steamroller over a few players who got in his way, you could argue that he was ahead of his time by five or 10 years.
Here was a great professional athlete playing right at the end of rugby’s amateur era. His opponents simply weren’t ready for that level of athletic ability.
There was also the crucial matter of timing. The 1995 World Cup was such a key moment for rugby. It was the first World Cup to involve the Springboks and the fact that South Africa hosted it, with Nelson Mandela’s full and public support, ensured that the eyes of the world were on the tournament.
It was at this moment that Jonah Lomu ran on to the stage with a performance that for me had the biggest impact of any player on any Rugby World Cup. It was a performance that helped to usher in the professional era. What a tragedy it was that his career would be cut short by his medical problems.
Lomu was unstoppable on that memorable day in South Africa
Importantly, away from the pitch Jonah was among the kindest and most respectful people you could hope to meet. I had the utmost admiration for him, and we shared the mutual respect of former opponents. In 2007 I flew to New Zealand to appear in an episode of This is Your Life that paid tribute to him.
I was proud to be a part of that small tribute to a fine human being – and am proud now, when I look back on it, to have played against one of the All Blacks’ greats. - Rory Underwood (Telegraph UK).
Thank you Rory for the tribute interview you did for our Jonah with the Telegraph.
Among the endless global tributes received, Nadene Lomu, wife and global brand manager of Jonah continues to give thanks in appreciation and gratitude for all the support and kindness sent to her and Jonah's little boys.
This was sent in from a great fan family member and in honour of Jonah we are privileged to share it in memory and celebration of the great humble giant Jonah Lomu will always be recognised for both on and off the field. A boy whom transcended rugby into the great game it is today, an icon, an inspiration in overcoming all challenges life threw at him from a young boy, to then turn his life around and becoming the worlds first True Global Superstar, that's our JONAH.
In asking Shane to share his story behind the number 11 tatt, he said, "when I started playin I was 5 and absolutely loved the sport. Especially with it being in my blood as my father is Maori and my mother Welsh so I had no choice really haha. I used to say to my dad, who's that big guy number 11 for the all blacks dad?" he said, "son that's a God sent to destroy anyone in his path" and I grew up saying is the number 11 God playing.
"I religiously watched Jonah every chance I could get and always wanted to play like him, to become what he had become, the most dangerous fantastic player that ever lived. I even shaved my hair exactly the same with a little tufts at the front, I also had the amazing chance of playing against him when he came to Wrexham north Wales, wow that hurt ha ha . Jonah has been an inspiration to me and many others and I say thank you Jonah, for my memories and thank you for making me want to play rugby, I will miss you my idol and will always look up to you as my "GOD" rest in peace Jonah love Shane. Number 1 fan .
Recently New Zealand lost one if its great totara trees, Jonah Lomu. A global superstar, a rugby pioneer and legend who brought joy and excitement not only to those who watched him, but all the lives he touched with his generosity.
As the family went into mourning the country and the rest of the world took time to remember a great New Zealander who helped pioneer the game into what it is today.
Jonah was a private person, who was so generous to others that he did not always think of the consequences to himself or his family and in the past week we saw some of that in the media.
There are two young boys that have been left without their Daddy (a term Brayley and Dhyreille used to refer to their father). Jonah was hoping to see them grow up and to guide them, along life’s path. The reality is that they no longer have that, however, they have not been left without a mother, and she is still here, and will continue to support them financially and emotionally. She is lucky enough to have two loving parents Merv and Lois to support her and their grandchildren as well as Jonah’s family. They are also blessed to have the best interests and support from so many New Zealanders which they are extremely grateful for. Nadene is not ready to speak publically yet while they are still coming to terms with the great loss of Jonah and life without him at their side. When she is ready she will make a further statement, but for now, would like to express her sincere appreciation to all of New Zealand, as well as Jonah’s vast group of supporters abroad, for the love and support that they have expressed to the family over the past number of weeks since Jonah’s death.
Nadene says “Thank you to New Zealand and the world for the support and love you have shown both my sons Brayley and Dhyreille on the passing of their Daddy. While this is a hard time for us, I am grateful for the support from all of you that have over the last week spared a thought for our family. On behalf of not just me, but Brayley and Dhyreille, I would like to thank those in the media that have given us space and time as a family to grieve. To the vans and cameras that have sat outside our family home last week and specifically the stories that have been written about us, I would ask for you to respect our privacy through the holiday period as Brayley and Dhyreille get ready to head into Christmas for the first time without their Daddy. This is a very difficult time for us, and we appreciate your support and love as well as consideration to let us all adjust to this new chapter in our lives.” “I would also like to thank the New Zealand Rugby Players Union, who independently and of their own initiative established a Trust to benefit our sons. This was done independent of my involvement and I am grateful that the boys will have that support growing up without their Daddy in their lives. The trust is there for the boys and I have every confidence the Trustees, who will administer the Trust, will do so in the best interest of our sons.”
”On behalf of our sons I am very grateful that people who have been touched through Jonah’s life have wanted to give so generously to the trust that has been established for Brayley and Dhyreille. I will continue to work hard, as every other good mother in this country does, to provide them with the best upbringing possible.”
“Once again thank you so much for your love and support, have a safe and happy Christmas with your family these holidays and enjoy every moment you can with your loved ones, you never know how long you have them with you.”
The family will answer more questions in the New Year, but for now want to focus their time with Brayley and Dhyreille to help them through the Festive season without their hero and Daddy, Jonah. - Jevan Goulter
The great Jonah Lomu mnzm, continues to please the multitude of fans with everywhere he has been and continues to go while moving around the United Kingdom.
From playing pranks on his many fans inside a Jonah machine placed at a pub in Dublin, to delivering priceless moments to fans in central London, team Lomu continue to walk the streets within the United Kingdom in aid to help Charity along the way.
Past tours handled by an outside promotion company have not delivered in line with the LOMU brand, so this time round, giving the best experience to Jonah's fan family has been priority. Thus said, Lomu and his team have created The UNSTOPPABLE Tour. In giving the fan family the best experience yet at each and every evening, an evening to remember will be marked in the history book of the great Jonah Lomu mnzm.
Here's your chance to get up close and personal with Jonah Lomu, don't miss your chance to secure tickets and tables and be part of The UNSTOPPABLE Tour, never done before but an experience not to be missed: www.adsportsevents.com for tickets and further details
Jonah Lomu has taken part in the haka, in Covent Garden, London, ahead of the Rugby World Cup.
“It’s always an honour to perform the haka, whether you’re representing your nation in front of 80,000 people or performing for a group of unsuspecting rugby fans,” Lomu said.
It's even been a really special moment for me having my wife, Nadene and my two boys Brayley and Dhyreille present to watch me perform the haka in London's iconic Covent Garden.
"I didn't think I would perform the haka again," Lomu said. "My two sons have never seen me do the haka before and this has brought it to life for me. It is something special for them as previously they have only seen videos."
Lomu, as a Mastercard ambassador for the tournament, had a stormy relationship with his own father, but after words from Nadene and her example of forgiveness and love, she clearly mended torn hearts after 17 years apart. Lomu's father died two years ago but the rift was non existent and Lomu's son's Brayley and Dhyreille as well as Lomu and his wife, all had memories to cherish. Lomu has said he's determined to make the most of his own sons.
My two sons have never seen me do the haka before and this has brought it to life for me. It is something special for them. "I do want to see them grow into grown men and I pray my health condition will allow me to do so, through the will of the man above," said Lomu.
"Whether they play rugby or not doesn't matter. I just want them to be healthy and to grow. One thing as a dad you don't want is for them to come to any harm or anything bad to happen to them.
"The illnesses and pain I'm going through, I don't want them to experience that, no dad wants that.
"This [the World Cup trip] is a great experience for them. This is where rugby started, so what a way to take two kids on a journey.
"I'm their dad and I'm trying to set an example and my beautiful wife ensures I do everything I need to do."
Indeed Lomu, who sports tattoos of his two boys names on his right arm and that of his wife on his left one, said Nadene - who Lomu revealed is responsible for Dhyreille's name, coming up with it at 1:00am while pregnant and eating pizza - is an immeasurable support to him.
"Rugby has prepared me for the challenges of life, but the most important thing is that your pillars are rock solid and the family keeps you in great stead," said Lomu.
"I am thankful that I have a beautiful wife and the kids are here. Nadene makes sure that my family stays together.
"She is my manager, my wife, my best friend and my boss!"
Lomu, scorer of 37 tries in 63 test appearances, still has enormous pull as was clear from the number of people, young and old, who sidled up and asked to have photos taken with him which he agreed to - three policemen waited for 20 minutes to have their photo taken with him.
"Its quite humbling for people to recognise me, given it is now 20 years ago since I first played in the World Cup.
"Made all the more humbling when kids come up to me and say 'I never saw you play live, but I watch you on YouTube' and other children saying they want to play like me."
Now walking the streets of England, Jonah Lomu MNZM prepares for his UNSTOPPABLE Tour as it's set to scrum down soon in a town near you in support of many different Charities. Twenty (20) years on since first making his mark as Global Superstar, the young boy that took amateur rugby to a professional level, achieved success as a Commonwealth Gold Medalist has been under high demand since landing.
Still held in high regard by the great people of England, he remains to draw crowds of all ages even at the age of 40.
Join Jonah, the Top Try Scorer in History and his team on his UNSTOPPABLE Tour, where not only will he support many charities but together with his fans he's set to making another mark in history!
Jonah Lomu MNZM, greeted by hundreds of his fans when arriving with his family at Reading Train Station, Berkshire, England, the Global Icon of World Rugby walked straight into the crowds where hundreds awaited his arrival.
Many of his fans being youngsters of all ages, the generation of whom had the pleasure of watching and cheering for Jonah as he once set foot onto the playing field creating a roar whenever he was present. Those also including the Police as they joined the queue, not able to resist the chance to meet the great man, stepping in to have photos and get the autograph of the Global Superstar.
When talking to those in attendance, many couldn't believe the great Jonah Lomu MNZM was in their presence, "when we heard he was coming to town, we got the day off work, he's the greatest rugby player ever an icon to the world, we all love him and I'm so excited I got the chance to meet him" Sherryl Jones said.
Other's just couldn't believe their eyes, saying he's a really nice, very humble and takes time with everyone, it was nice to see his family too said Martin Cooper.
Jonah Lomu is still regarded as the most prolific player and highest try scorer in Rugby World Cup history and now motivates and inspires a new generation. Jonah visited Berkshire for the day where all Berkshire Rugby Clubs at Green Park in Reading gathered to celebrate World Rugby from the inaugural RWC in1987 to RWC2015. Jonah Lomu MNZM was their chosen one and to be toured around Berkshire with his family on the double decker Berkshire Rugby Bus.
"It was a priviledge to be chosen and an honour to be part of. I got to meet so many great people of Berkshire, their club players, kids of all ages and families too with a solid 4 hours of photos, signings and selfies, it was a fun day for everyone including my wife and two sons Brayley and Dhyreille, they made some new friends too. I just wanted to thank all the people of Berkshire that made us all feel so welcome". Jonah Lomu MNZM.
Lomu's heading to America for the first time yet, so the countdown continues with almost 4 weeks to go before touchdown, the excitement has lifted to a level above all, a Lomu level I guess you could call it.
Rugby's first true Global Superstar Jonah Lomu MNZM is set to walk the streets of Utah, Salt Lake City, where he will join the wonderful locals and VIP guests for a Gala Dinner. "It's an honour for me and to have my wife with me, she's my manager too Lomu says with a smile, but a chance to meet many great people on this trip and to see the true beauty within Salt Lake City is exciting for us both".
When briefly talking to Jonah about his life, well...there would never be enough pages in a book if he were to write it all down, it wouldn't matter how many chapters or even how many editions he wrote, this guy has such an extraordinary story to share of his many achievements and experiences both on and off the pitch. The life he lived as a young boy growing up in the streets of South Auckland, New Zealand, the boy he once was...who grew up fast, he had no choice on that. Fighting for survival, to keep his shoes on his feet, the jacket on his back as he slept in bus shelters with no place to go at the age of 14.
Thinking back, Jonah shares dark memories of the days and cold, tough nights of sleeping on the streets. Hard to even imagine as I listen to him talking. A young boy that had no one to help him, no place to turn for warmth, the bus shelter was it! Nothing good could come of staying on the streets either he tells, I was kicked out of home for protecting my mum, that's no secret but on the streets, I knew the only one I could rely on was myself.
Jonah knew, if he wanted something, a better life, a life to do something with himself; there wasn't anyone that would hand it to him, there wasn't anyone to help him do something good either, he knew he had to make it happen, so he did!
The Gala Dinner is set to be a fantastic evening to share with the legendary Jonah Lomu MNZM; the youngest ever to wear the All Black Jersey at the age of just 19 years and 45 days. Join in on an unforgettable evening. A Global Superstar to the World, an Inspiration, an Icon and a friend to his great global fan family whom he remains thankful for, a guy who has never forgotten where he came from!
Gala Dinner proudly brought to you by Jonah Lomu 7one5 and Domain Sports Media. With thanks to all sponsors.