Jonah Lomu

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Jonah Lomu
The cover of Jonah Lomu's autobiography
The cover of Jonah Lomu's autobiography
Full name Jonah Tali Lomu
Date of birth May 12, 1975 (age 31)
Place of birth Auckland, New Zealand
Height 1.96 m
Weight 120 kg
Rugby union career
Position Wing
All Black No. 941
Provincial/State sides Caps (points)
2006-
2004-05
2000-03
1994-99
North Harbour
Cardiff Blues
Wellington
Counties Manukau
3
10
21
28
(0)
(?)
(?)
(?)
correct as of 9 September 2006.
Super Rugby    
2000-03
1999
1996-98
Hurricanes
Chiefs
Blues
29
8
22
(?)
(?)
(?)
Current local club: Massey
correct as of 9 September 2006.
National team(s)    
1994-2002 New Zealand 73 (215)
correct as of 11 Nov 2006.
Other Information
School  attended Wesley College

Jonah Tali Lomu (born May 12, 1975) is a New Zealand rugby union footballer who has played 73 times (63 caps) as an All Black after debuting in 1994. Lomu was born in Auckland, New Zealand of Tongan descent. He grew up in South Auckland and attended Wesley College, Pukekohe. He is generally regarded as the first true global superstar of rugby union, and one of the sport's most intimidating players on the pitch,[1] and has had a huge impact on the game.[2]

Lomu burst onto the international rugby scene during the 1995 World Cup in South Africa. At one time Lomu was considered 'rugby union's biggest drawcard', swelling attendances at any match where he appeared. He has played for several provincial teams, in the National Provincial Championship (NPC) and Super Rugby competitions. These included the Auckland Blues, Waikato Chiefs, and later the Wellington Lions and Hurricanes. He is making a comeback after undergoing a kidney transplant in 2004. He was married to South African Tanya Rutter in 1996, and they officially divorced in 2000. He has been married to Fiona Taylor since 2003. He is officially the Rugby World Cup all-time top try scorer with 15 tries.[1]

Contents

[edit] Physical attributes

Lomu's physique was particularly suited for rugby as he is large, fast, and strong - qualities he augments with aggression, skill, and an intimidating presence on the field. At 1.96[3] metres (6 foot 5 inches/195.58 centimetres), Lomu is as tall as most locks, and at 119 kilograms[3] (19.5 stone/273 pounds) is as heavy as most props. Despite his size he was (the All Blacks heaviest ever back), when healthy, still able to run 100 metres (109.4 yards) in 10.89 seconds.[4]

At school his sprint training included running around the field and pulling a lawn-roller with a rope tied around his waist. Lomu played rugby league until the age of fourteen. While at Wesley and being coached by Chris Grinter, Lomu became a mobile loose forward in the college's First XV. He was soon noticed by provincial rugby selectors, and joined the Counties Manukau NPC team side. Lomu was also selected for national age-grade sides, representing New Zealand under-17 in 1991-92 and New Zealand Secondary Schools in 1992-93.[3]

[edit] Early career

Lomu represented New Zealand in the national under-19 side in 1993, as well as the under-21 side the following year.[3] He first came to international attention at the 1994 Hong Kong Sevens tournament[5], as part of a fearsome team including Eric Rush, and Christian Cullen.

At the age of 19 years and 45 days Jonah Lomu became the youngest All Black test player as he debuted on the wing against France in 1994. The match was played at Lancaster Park in Christchurch, and the All Blacks lost 22 points to three. Lomu's performance was middling - but the best was yet to come. He had however performed well enough to ensure his selection the following week, in the second of two tests against France. The match was played at Eden Park in Auckland, and France won again, 23 to 20.

[edit] 1995 World Cup

Despite just the two All Black caps, Lomu was included in the squad for the World Cup. Jonah stunned international rugby audiences (and unsuspecting players) at the 1995 World Cup, when he scored seven tries in five matches, including four in the semi-finals against England. In his first ever World Cup match, against Ireland in Johannesburg, he scored two tries in the 43 to 19 win. The following match against Wales, Lomu was replaced during the game, and did not score any tries in the 34 to 9 victory. He was rested for the final pool match against Japan. In the quarter finals, Jonah scored a try in the 48 to 30 win over Scotland at Loftus Versfeld. He shocked the 51,000 that packed into Newlands in Cape Town to see the semi-final against England, as he notched up four tries in the 45 to 29 defeat of the English, including a try in which he ran straight through England fullback Mike Catt.

Lomu bulldozes Mike Catt during the 1995 semi-final, one of his four tries during the match
Lomu bulldozes Mike Catt during the 1995 semi-final, one of his four tries during the match

His style of play at times defied description; New Zealand commentator, Keith Quinn, was famously reduced to gasps as Lomu devastated England's backline. Before the 1995 game on being asked how England planned to contain him, Will Carling told reporters 'His legs are the same thickness as anybody elses, I'm sure he'll go down just the same.' After the game, Carling was quoted as saying: 'He is a freak, and the sooner he goes away the better'. Lomu's attacking style was one of pure power; he had a tendency to run straight into or over any defender with the misfortune to get in his way. When at the peak of his playing ability, he defeated up to five players on the way to the tryline.

Following the win over England, the All Blacks entered what would become an epic World Cup final match at Ellis Park against the Springboks[6], but despite his efforts, Lomu could not score a try against the South African side. The game went to the hosts, who scored a drop-goal in extra time to sink the All Blacks 15-12.

[edit] 1996-1998

In the first match after the World Cup loss to South Africa, the All Blacks took on Australia at home at Eden Park. Lomu scored New Zealand's only try in the match; which they won 28 points to 16. In the return match, held at the Sydney Football Stadium to decide the Bledisloe Cup, the All Blacks won 34 to 23 despite trailing at half-time, with Lomu scoring a try. Lomu's scoring for New Zealand continued later that year when the All Blacks took on Italy in Bologna, with Lomu contributing two tries to the victory. Lomu also played against the French Barbarians in November in Toulon, as well as two matches against French selections. Lomu played in the first test against France in Toulouse, which was won through penalty goals, as well as the subsequent match against a French Selection, in which Lomu scored a pair of tries. He scored a try in the second and final test against France in Paris.

During the 1990s Lomu was responsible for changing rugby, he was the face of rugby and in the process became the sport’s first true superstar...There had been no-one like him before and there has been no-one since

— Kris Babicci, Chief Executive of Standard Chartered Bank, Qatar[7]

Prior to the start of the first Tri Nations Series, Lomu played for the All Blacks in matches against Samoa and Scotland, scoring in the Scottish match. The All Blacks also hosted Australia in Wellington; crushing the Wallabies 43 to six, with Lomu getting one of the tries. The 1996 Tri Nations was the first of its kind, and launched with the advent of professionalism in rugby. A close victory over South Africa in Christchurch was followed by a 32 to 25 win over the Wallabies, in which Lomu scored. The wins ensured the All Blacks became the first ever Tri Nations champions. Post-Tri Nations, Lomu played three other matches for the All Blacks that year; against Currie Cup sides in South Africa; Eastern Province, Western Transvaal and Griqualand West.

At the end of 1996 he was diagnosed with a rare and serious kidney disorder, which saw him take time off from the sport. As such he did not play in the 1997 Tri Nations Series, but was included in the All Blacks tour of the northern hemisphere at the end of the year. Lomu played in the two warm up matches, scoring tries against Wales 'A' and Emerging England. He played the first test against England at Old Trafford, as well as the test against Wales at Wembley Stadium, and the second match against England, though he did not score in any of the three games.

At the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur he won a gold medal representing New Zealand in the Sevens Rugby event. Following the test series in England, the English rugby team came to New Zealand in June the following year for a two test series. Lomu played in both of the matches, scoring in the first, which was a 64 to 22 win in Dunedin, which was followed by a 40 to 10 win. The 1998 Tri Nations Series did not go as planned for the All Blacks, as they lost all four games and finished at the bottom of the table.

[edit] 1999 and the World Cup

Lomu's 1999 international season kicked off with a warm-up match against New Zealand 'A', which was followed by a game against Samoa in which Lomu scored one of the All Blacks' nine tries. Lomu came on late in the first game of the 1999 Tri Nations Series, which was a huge 28 to nil win over South Africa, and at one point took eight men to bring him down. He again started from the bench in the subsequent game against Australia which the All Blacks also won. Lomu started from the bench in the following match against the Springboks in Pretoria, though he came in early, in the 34 to 18 win. He was introduced at near half-time in the final Tri Nations game against Australia in Sydney, though the game was characterised by New Zealand errors, and Australia won the rainy affair, in front of 107,042 supporters. Despite the loss, the All Blacks were crowned Tri Nations champions.

He scored eight tries at the 1999 World Cup. In New Zealand's first pool match of the tournament against Tonga he scored two tries, scoring again in the one of his finest matches in pool play against England.[8] Lomu scored his second double of the tournament in the third and final pool match against Italy. The All Blacks, finishing atop of their pool proceeded to the quarter-finals, where they defeated Scotland, with Lomu added one of New Zealand's four tries. Lomu scored twice in the semi-final match against France, though it was not enough to see them through to the final, as France went onto win 43 to 31. Through his career, Lomu has scored 8 tries against England — more than any other All Black. Lomu also holds an unbeaten record of 15 tries in World Cup tournaments. Following the World Cup, there was speculation that Lomu would be moving to the NFL, or the English premiership, with both the Saracens F.C. and Worcester Rugby publicly saying they would make an offer to him. None of the speculation materialised and Lomu stayed in New Zealand.[9]

[edit] 2000-2003

After playing in the 100+ victory over Tonga, he and Tana Umaga scored five tries between them in the subsequent match against Scotland. One of his tries was a characteristic bulldozing effort down the wing, leaving Scottish defenders in his wake. In the opening match of the 2000 Tri Nations Series, the All Blacks raced out to a 21 to nil lead, which had the potential to be 28, had George Gregan not stopped Lomu from scoring one of his own. Australia amazingly fought back, and with minutes remaining, both sides had scored five tries each. The world record rugby crowd of 109,874 was treated to the highest scoring match ever between the two sides. With just minutes remaining, the Wallabies led 35 to 34; until Lomu "brushed past a desperate Stephen Larkham to tip-toe down the line and score the winning try"[10].

The match was followed by a victory over South Africa, and then a re-match of the thrilling Bledisloe Cup game, which Australia won by just a single point, 24 to 23. A barn-storming Lomu was stopped short of the line early in the second half in the final match against South Africa. The Springboks eventually won, 46 to 40. The All Blacks finished second on the table, with Australia winning the Tri Nations. He played in one other test that year; against France at Stade de France in November, which the All Blacks won 39 to 26.

Lomu also led the New Zealand Sevens team to victory at the 2001 Sevens World Cup, filling in for Rush, who suffered a broken leg during the competition. In the lead up to the 2001 Tri Nations Series the All Blacks played Argentina and France at home, Lomu scoring a try in the French match. Despite causing havoc for the Springboks, no tries were scored in the opening match of the Tri Nations, which was won on penalty goals by the All Blacks. Lomu played his 50th test for the All Blacks at the Carisbrook 'House of Pain', scoring a try in the second minute of play. The Wallabies spoiled the party however, winning 23 to 15. This was followed by a win over South Africa, and loss to the Wallabies at Stadium Australia.

At the end of the year, the All Blacks played Ireland at Lansdowne Road in Dublin, with Lomu being a central figure in the 40 to 29 win; setting up Aaron Mauger for his debut try, and taking an inside pass to blast through for one of his own. The All Blacks end of season tour continued at Murrayfield in Edinburgh, where they defeated Scotland 37 to six, with Lomu contributing one try. In the final match of the tour, the All Blacks played Argentina at the River Plate Stadium. Lomu put the All Blacks in front after Argentina took an early lead, with Lomu brushing off four defenders to score. The match was in the end won by New Zealand, 24 to 20.

In his first test of 2002, he came off the bench in the second half to score a try in a match against Italy. He was again injected into play from the bench in the first of a two test series against Ireland in New Zealand; setting up the All Blacks second try coming on in the last fifteen minutes of play. Lomu was back at his usual starting position for the second test against the Irish, which New Zealand won 40 points to eight. Lomu did not score in the subsequent match against Fiji; though he did however make a trademark run down the wing, setting up Christian Cullen's third try in the match. Lomu came off the bench in the All Blacks first game of the 2002 Tri Nations Series against South Africa, though he did not play in the rest of the tournament.

He was however back in his starting position on the wing for a game against England in November; which Lomu ended up scoring a double, though it was not enough to see a New Zealand victory, with England winning 31 to 28. The subsequent match against France resulted in a draw, the first between the two nations in 96 years. The last match of the end of season tour was against Wales, which the All Blacks won 43 to 17.

[edit] Health issues

At the end of 1996 Lomu was diagnosed as having nephrotic syndrome, a rare and serious kidney disorder. His rugby union career went on hold whilst the disorder was treated. In May 2003, the NZRFU announced that Lomu had been put on dialysis three times a week due to deterioration in his kidney function. Side effects of Lomu's dialysis treatment led to severe nerve damage in his feet and legs; his doctors warned him that he faced life in a wheelchair if a kidney transplant was not performed soon.

Late in March 2004, Lomu was quoted by a Hong Kong newspaper to the effect that a suitable live kidney donor had been found, and that he would have transplant surgery sometime during 2004. However, the former All Blacks team physician who was overseeing Lomu's treatment quickly denied the report. Nonetheless, at the end of July 2004 it was reported that Lomu had indeed undergone a kidney transplant on Tuesday, July 28, in Auckland, New Zealand. The kidney was in fact donated by Wellington radio presenter Grant Kereama. Lomu soon announced his intention to train for his rugby union renaissance in June 2005.

[edit] Comeback quest

In January 2005 he announced his intentions to lead a team against Martin Johnson's invitational XV on June 4, 2005, at Twickenham. He scored a try in the first half of the Johnson testimonial, but injured his shoulder in the process and did not return for the second half, dampening an otherwise encouraging first appearance.[11] As it turned out, his injury was more serious than originally thought; he underwent surgery on the shoulder that caused him to miss the 2005 NPC season.

Before returning to professional rugby, he needed special clearance from the World Anti-Doping Agency, as one of the anti-rejection drugs he must take is on the WADA list of banned substances.[12] On April 8, 2005, he signed a two-year contract to play for the New Zealand first division provincial team North Harbour in the NPC.[13]

On the 9 August 2005 he accepted a coaching position at North Harbour,[14] with North Harbour agreed to allow him to play overseas during the NPC offseason, so Lomu signed with the Cardiff Blues of the Celtic League and began playing in Wales in December that year,[15], though he would then return to North Harbour for the 2006 NPC season.[16] Lomu made his first appearance in a competitive match since his transplant on December 10, in Cardiff's away Heineken Cup fixture against Italian club Calvisano. He started the match and played 60 minutes, although he did not score, he made a key line break that led to Cardiff's first try in their 25-10 win.

One week later he made his home debut for Cardiff at Cardiff Arms Park and played for the whole match. Again, he did not get onto the scoresheet but his presence was enough to create space for other players to score in a 43-16 win over Calvisano. In front of a record home crowd, Lomu scored his first try for Cardiff on December 27, 2005, with a man-of-the-match performance during a Celtic League 41-23 win against the Newport Gwent Dragons. In early 2006 whilst he had been sidelined while he concentrated on gaining speed and strength, stating that "I have now lost between 10 and 11 kilos".[17] He got his first start since January against Border Reivers on Saturday, April 15, but broke his ankle as a result of a cover tackle against him four minutes from time. He was denied a try, but managed to get the ball away for Mark Lewis to score the Blues sixth try in their 46-11 win. He was estimated to be out for six weeks, as reported by his manager and wife, Fiona Lomu, meaning the end of his Celtic League season.

After three seasons of absence from rugby in New Zealand, Lomu played for Massey against Marist in the North Harbour club competition. Lomu was on for 30 minutes, making a blocking run before he twisted his right ankle and was subsequently replaced. Lomu said that it was "a small step"[18] in part of his comeback. He is aiming to return to the National Provincial Championship and reclaim his All Blacks jersey for the 2007 World Cup. It was speculated in the media that Lomu may play for North Harbour in third round of the 2006 Air New Zealand Cup, though officials did not confirm anything.[19] Lomu ended up running out for North Harbour in round four, in a match against Wellington, playing in the last 26 minutes of the game. Harbour won the match 31-16. Lomu said after the match "For me it's a dream come true...I've always said this is my goal - to come back and play in New Zealand." However he has now ended his hopes of returning to play with the New Zealand All Blacks after not being signed with a New Zealand Super 14 Team, therefore ruling him out for the 2007 Rugby World Cup In France.[20] Before Lomu failed to be signed by any franchise, Lomu was demoted to the North Harbour 2nd XV. Lomu stated he was disappointed by his failure in not getting a Super 14 contract, but that he had not failed himself.[20] It was subsequently speculated that Lomu may play in Australia in 2007 for one of the new national competition clubs.

On October 16th 2006 it was reported that Lomu was close to switching codes and signing for the Gold Coast Titans, a side in Australia's National Rugby League competition. He was offered a relatively small contract of a hundred thousand dollars. However, the deal did not materialise as Lomu was unable to reconcile his contracts based on him playing rugby union to playing in the NRL.[2]

On 5th November 2006, the BBC reported that Lomu was considering a return to Welsh rugby. [3] He is set to return to Hong Kong to take part in the Tens competition.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Jonah Lomu. kidzworld.com. Retrieved on July 22, 2007.
  2. ^ Jonah Lomu's rugby journey. bbc.co.uk. Retrieved on July 22, 2007.
  3. ^ a b c d Jonah Lomu. allblacks.com. Retrieved on July 22, 2007.
  4. ^ Jonah Lomu. abc.net.au. Retrieved on July 22, 2007.
  5. ^ Lomu: A giant on any stage. allblacks.com. Retrieved on July 22, 2007.
  6. ^ 289th All Black Test : 992nd All Black Game. allblacks.com. Retrieved on July 22, 2007.
  7. ^ Rugby great Jonah Lomu to visit Doha on November 1. The Peninsula On-line. Retrieved on October 27, 2007.
  8. ^ 332nd All Black Test : 1050th All Black Game. allblacks.com. Retrieved on July 22, 2007.
  9. ^ All Blacks' Lomu remains hot property. sportsillustrated.cnn.com. Retrieved on July 22, 2007.
  10. ^ 340th All Black Test : 1058th All Black Game. allblacks.com. Retrieved on July 22, 2007.
  11. ^ Johnson XV 33-29 Lomu XV. bbc.co.uk. Retrieved on July 22, 2007.
  12. ^ Lomu targets Sevens comeback. rugbyrugby.com. Retrieved on July 22, 2007.
  13. ^ Lomu signs North Harbour contract. bbc.co.uk. Retrieved on July 22, 2007.
  14. ^ Lomu puts injury time to good use. nzherald.co.nz. Retrieved on July 22, 2007.
  15. ^ Lomu to see action with Cardiff. rugbyrugby.com. Retrieved on July 22, 2007.
  16. ^ The All Black in Blue - Jonah Lomu signs for Cardiff Blues. cardiffblues.com. Retrieved on July 22, 2007.
  17. ^ Jonah's return is picking up pace. icwales.icnetwork.co.uk. Retrieved on July 22, 2007.
  18. ^ Lomu returns to rugby. slam.canoe.ca. Retrieved on July 22, 2007.
  19. ^ Lomu close to North Harbour debut. newstalkzb.co.nz. Retrieved on August 9, 2007.
  20. ^ a b Lomu concedes All Blacks dream is over. Scrum.com. Retrieved on October 3, 2007.

[edit] Further reading

  • Lomu, Jonah, (2004). Jonah Lomu Autobiography, Headline Book Pub Ltd, (ISBN 0-7553-1263-5)

[edit] External links