Rugby legend Jonah Lomu has died at the age of 40, it has been confirmed.
Lomu, regarded by many as one of the game’s all-time greats, scored 37 tries in 63 appearances for New Zealand between 1994 and 2002.
However, he was diagnosed with a serious kidney condition in 1996 which eventually forced him to quit the game. In 2004 he underwent a kidney transplant.
Lomu returned to the game following the procedure and made ten appearances for the Cardiff Blues in 2005 and 2006, but he continued to suffer ill health and in 2011 the replacement kidney failed.
The winger made his international debut against France in 1994 and went on to enjoy a stellar career including appearances at two World Cups.
Lomu is fondly remembered for his performance against England in the 1995 World Cup semi-final and is the joint-highest try scorer in the tournament’s history alongside South Africa’s Bryan Habana.
Tributes have poured in from the rugby world, with former All Blacks captain Sean Fitzpatrick tweeting:
“Our thoughts are with the Jonah Lomu family tonight. A very special person.”
World Cup winner Dan Carter added:
“I still can’t believe the sad news. Love and thoughts go out to Jonah’s family.”
New Zealand Rugby’s chief executive Steve Tew said:
“Jonah was a legend of our game and loved by his many fans both here and around the world.
“We’re lost for words and our heartfelt sympathies go out to Jonah’s family.”
Scotland legend Gavin Hastings, who played against Lomu, told EN4 News’ Scott Thomson that the New Zealander will be sadly missed.
He said: “I speak on behalf of all rugby followers that Jonah was the most wonderful player.
“I was lucky enough to know him pretty well. He was a real gentleman off the field and probably the most famous rugby player there has ever been.”