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Tributes pour in after shock death of All Blacks legend Jonah Lomu

Published 18/11/2015

Stars from the world of sport and beyond have paid tribute to legendary New Zealand rugby player Jonah Lomu, who has died at 40.

Lomu, who won 63 caps for the All Blacks, had suffered from health problems since his retirement from the international game in 2002 due to a rare kidney disease.

The winger, who burst on to the international scene at the 1995 World Cup, had a stint with Cardiff Blues, for whom he played 10 matches for from 2005-06.

His wife Nadene told New Zealand media his death was a "devastating loss" and reports said the cause of death was yet to be established.

Meanwhile, New Zealand prime minister John Key extended the nation's sympathy to his loved ones.

He tweeted: "Deeply saddened to hear of Jonah Lomu's unexpected passing this morning. The thoughts of the entire country are with his family."

Stars from inside and outside rugby union reacted with shock at the news on social media.

England Rugby World Cup (RWC) winner Jonny Wilkinson said: "I am so, so devastated to hear of the passing away of JONAHTALILOMU The greatest superstar and just a fabulous human being. Deeply saddened."

England's Mike Brown tweeted: "I can't believe the legend Jonah has passed away! So so sad An inspiration & hero to everyone ever involved in rugby."

And Sale Sharks player Danny Cipriani said: "Jonah Lomu and Christian Cullen are the reason I picked up a rugby ball - JL was a legend and a true inspiration who kept fighting."

Jonah Lomu has died at the age of 40.
Jonah Lomu has died at the age of 40.
Lomu's made a huge impact at the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
In 1995, Jonah Lomu became rugby's first global superstar when he took the Rugby World Cup by storm. Lomu scored seven tries in the tournament but it was his performance against England in the semi-final which really caught the eye. The twenty-year-old winger, who weighed just under twenty stone and towered over his opposition at 6'5", famously trampled over Mike Catt on his way to scoring four tries and dumping England out of the tournament in a 45-29 victory for the All Blacks. After the game, England captain Will Carling famously described Lomu as 'a freak'. The Kiwi's further eight tries in the 1999 tournament make Lomu the all-time Rugby World Cup top try-scorer with fifteen tries.
Jonah Lomu (right) is a big draw, despite never having won the Rugby World Cup
Born in Auckland to Tongan parents in 1975, Jonah Tali Lomu spent the early part of his childhood in Tonga.
He moved out to the left wing by the time he won the first of his 63 Test caps as the youngest ever All Black - against France at the age of 19 years and 45 days - and it was as a move none would argue with.
One of the All Blacks greatest players was also one of the sports most intimidating. Standing at 6ft 5in, Lomu would dwarf his opponents and the ones that dared tackle him would be swatted away like flies. That he has since moved into the world of body building and can now be seen in skimpy underwear striking silly poses has somewhat tarnished his fearful reputation.
Superstar: Jonah Lomu in action for the All Blacks
In front of a world record crowd of 109,874 in Sydney, Jonah Lomu scored a last minute try for the All Blacks, giving them an incredible victory against Australia.
His imposing frame meant he was soon making an impression on the rugby pitch. However, when he represented New Zealand schoolboys, it was as a number eight.
Jonah Lomu limbers up with the New Zealand squad in Auckland today" data-title=" Jonah Lomu limbers up with the New Zealand squad in Auckland today" >
Jonah Lomu limbers up with the New Zealand squad in Auckland today
Despite his World Cup heroics, Lomu never won a World Cup.
Lomu looks on during the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Opening Ceremony at Eden Park on September 9, 2011 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
His international career ended in 2002 and t he following year he spent the first of many hours receiving kidney dialysis treatment. The year after that Lomu revealed he needed a transplant. He had it - but his body rejected it in 2011 and the dialysis continued.
Lomu was in the United Kingdom for the recent World Cup, where he tweeted passionately about the sport he still loved. The success of "the brothers in black" was relished publicly by someone who had lived the moment himself. He is survived by wife Nadene and their young sons Brayley and Dhyreille.
Rugby World Cup 1995 New Zealand vs Ireland Jonah Lomu ©INPHO/Billy Stickland
Jonah Lomu is tackled by Gary Longwell of Ireland Mandatory Credit©INPHO/Billy Stickland
Ireland v Barbarians. All Black Jonah Lomu playing for the Barbarians breaks through the Irish defence during the friendly at Lansdowne Road, Dublin Sunday May 28 2000. PA Photo: Chris Bacon...S
Jonah Lomu scores a try against Ireland during the second half of their international rugby union game at Lansdowne Road, Dublin, November 17, 2001. REUTERS/Paul McErlane...S
New Zealand Rugby star, Jonah Lomu at the launch of Ballygowan's new Sports Pack in Dublin's Shelbourne Hotel. Picturen By David Conachy. 16/01/2003.
All Black star Jonah Lomu is tackled by four year old Dan Sheehan at the launch of the new Ballygowan sports Pack at Stephens Green in Dublin. 16/01/2003
Jonah Lomu of New Zealand sings the national anthem before the start of the England v NZ International, Twickenham, London 09/11/2002.
New Zealand Rugby star, Jonah Lomu at the launch of Ballygowan's new Sports Pack in Dublin's Shelbourne Hotel. Picturen By David Conachy. 16/01/2003.
Jonah Lomu and Denis Hickie in the International Friendly Ireland vs New Zealand All Blacks 17/11/2001. ©INPHO/Patrick Bolger
Cardiff Blues and former All Black Jonah Lomu arrives for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, Sunday December 11, 2005.
Rugby Legend Jonah Lomu turns on the Christmas Lights in Limerick.

Former BBC Radio 1 host and fellow Kiwi Zane Lowe tweeted: "The one and only Jonah Lomu R.I.P."

And the All Blacks' RWC 2015 winner Dan Carter said: "I still can't believe the sad news. Love & thoughts go out to Jonahs family."

Journalist Piers Morgan was also among those who paid tribute to the player, saying: "So sad & shocked to hear about Jonah Lomu. True sporting giant & humble, charming, funny & likeable man. RIP.

Former Wales fly-half Jonathan Davies tweeted: "Can't believe that Jonah Lomu has passed away. Was with him and his wife and family for an evening last month. So sad, life is so cruel.

"RIP Jonah you were a true legend and a gentleman.You changed the game of rugby and will be sorely missed. My thoughts are with your family."

Lomu's death was confirmed by New Zealand Rugby, whose chief Steve Tew said: "Jonah was a legend of our game and loved by his many fans both here and around the world."

The star was diagnosed with the serious kidney condition nephrotic syndrome in 1996 and underwent a kidney transplant in 2004. But after it failed in 2011, he became reliant on dialysis.

In an interview with the Daily Mail in August this year he had said he was hoping for a second transplant.

Just three days ago, in one of his final tweets, Lomu showed his solidarity with the people of France following the Paris terrorist attacks.

He tweeted from Dubai a picture of the Burj al Arab hotel lit up with the Tricolore, accompanied with the words : "Sois Fort. Viva la France".

Later the same day he also tweeted support for a cancer sufferer, saying: "We are praying for you be strong my friend."

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