All Blacks legend Lomu dies aged 40

Wed Nov 18, 2015 6:05am EST
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By Greg Stutchbury

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand rugby legend Jonah Lomu, who revolutionised wing play to become the sport's first global superstar, died on Wednesday in Auckland at the age of 40, prompting a global outpouring of grief.

Lomu had suffered from kidney disease for two decades and had a transplant in 2004 but former All Blacks doctor John Mayhew said his death was a complete shock.

"It was totally unexpected," Mayhew said. "Jonah and his family arrived back from the United Kingdom last night and he suddenly died this morning."

Lomu, who was awaiting another transplant and undergoing dialysis treatment, had undertaken commercial obligations at the recent Rugby World Cup in England, won by New Zealand.

His death took the rugby-mad country by surprise and triggered a flood of messages of condolence from around the world.

New Zealand's parliament expressed their sorrow before they began proceedings on Wednesday.

"Anyone who was living in New Zealand in the 1990s would not have failed to notice the massive impact Jonah Lomu had not only on sports fans but the wider community in this country," Sports Minister Jonathan Coleman said.

"He was a man who came from humble beginnings in Mangere, South Auckland and rose to become rugby's first global superstar."   Continued...

Jonah Lomu poses for photographers during a news conference in Cardiff, south Wales, November 14, 2005 file photo. REUTERS/Darren Staples/Files