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Former All-Black captain Sean Fitzpatrick leads tributes to Jonah Lomu

Published 19/11/2015

The world of rugby has paid tribute to New Zealand great Jonah Lomu, who has died at the age of 40.
The world of rugby has paid tribute to New Zealand great Jonah Lomu, who has died at the age of 40.

Jonah Lomu will always be remembered as one of rugby's brightest stars, according to those who played with and against the former New Zealand winger.

Lomu's death at the age of 40 left fans across the world shocked and led to countless tributes from the world of rugby.

The Auckland-born powerhouse, who suffered from a rare kidney disease, scored 37 tries in 63 Test matches and is best remembered for his impact on the 1995 Rugby World Cup when he scored seven tries, including four in a devastating semi-final display against England.

"He was the first global superstar. Everyone wanted to be Jonah Lomu," former New Zealand captain Sean Fitzpatrick told Sky Sports News.

"The way the game changed was because of the way he played. He will go down as one of the greatest."

Zinzan Brooke, another of Lomu's one-time All Blacks colleagues, told BBC Radio 5 live: "He could have played in any position he wanted to on the field.

"It's amazing what he did in that '95 World Cup. He launched himself on the international scene and changed the way the game was played in an instant.

"When you think of the World Cup you will always go back to Jonah running round or over opponents. You'll always remember the superstar that was Jonah Lomu."

Lomu could destroy opponents with a single trademark run but those who lined up against him or tried to stop him in team meetings also praised his rare ability.

"He took rugby to a whole new level," former England coach Sir Clive Woodward told BBC Radio 4.

"He was unstoppable. For the first time ever you had this incredibly gifted, large, very fast athlete on the wing."

Jonny Wilkinson, who kicked England to victory in the 2003 World Cup, tweeted: "I am so, so devastated to hear of the passing away of @JONAHTALILOMU The greatest superstar and just a fabulous human being. Deeply saddened."

And former Wales fly-half Jonathan Davies told BBC Breakfast: "When he arrived on the scene, he was absolutely incredible - the size, the speed of the man. It was difficult to take on board.

"He changed the game of rugby union; all the kids wanted to be Jonah Lomu.

"He was an amazing rugby player and it's very difficult not to think of him when you're watching the All Blacks play. He changed the game forever."

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