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The First Global Superstar...
Mesmerising, intimidating, the Big Man... Jonah Lomu
Posted Aug 11, 2010 by Legends
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In team sports, it's so difficult to pick out the greatest player of all time so we're going to take a closer look at many of rugby's stars from years gone by over the next few months.
And we're going to start with a powerhouse who terrorised defences - New Zealand wing Jonah Lomu.
Often regarded as the first global superstar of Rugby Union, Lomu was mesmerising to watch, often intimidating opponents and crashing straight through them in a bid to score for his country.
The All Black won 63 caps for his county after bursting onto the scene in 1994, aged just 19, at the Hong Kong Sevens tournament and was officially inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame on October 9th, 2007.
He starred at the 1995 World Cup in South Africa, and although the All Blacks lost the final to the hosts,he was recognised as the star man of the tournament. With 15 tries at World Cups, he holds the official record as the all-time leading try scorer.
Lomu, who weighs in at 18st13lb and stands at 6ft 4.5in tall, scored 37 tries for his country, totaling 185 points in his 63 Tests and when he played, New Zealand generally won.
Known as the Big Man or Burger, Lomu was to face more serious challenges in his personal life and towards the end of 1995 he was diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome, a devastating kidney disorder.
He continued to play but in 1997, the disease took him out of game and it forced a premature departure at all levels in May 2003, when it was announced by the New Zealand Rugby FootballUnion that Lomu had been put on dialysis three times a week as his condition worsened. He was just 28. He was even told that, because of the dialysis treatment, he could have faced life in a wheelchair after severe damage to the nerves in his feet and legs.
However, following a successful kidney transplant in the summer of 2004, Lomu embarked on a journey to make a comeback to the game he loved and that loved him. He eventually made his competitive return after several setbacks with injury in the Cardiff Blues' Heineken Cup match against the Italian side Calvisano. He played for an hour and although he didn't score, the Blues went on the win 25-10.
He then announced his retirement from the sport in 2007 but has since made a comeback with French Fédérale 1 side Marseille Vitrolles Rugby where he has moved to number 8.
He has also entered bodybuilding contests, placing second in two categories including the men's open over-90kg and the mixed pairs.
Lomu is the man who changed rugby union, swelled the crowds and wowed his fans with many dazzling displays only for his career to be cut short by a devastating illness. A true great of the game.