Jonah Lomu – Rugby’s Human Battering Ram

Jonah Lomu was like a charging rhino crashing through the defences of the world’s best rugby teams as he ran with the ball.

A massive hulk of a man who towered over everyone else on the pitch.

Once the All Black got up a head of steam for the Kiwis, nothing was really going to stop him.

Crowds will never forget Lomu leaving battered and bruised defenders in his wake as they bounced off him as if he was wearing armoured skin.

The rugby world mourns a giant of a man with a gentle heart who died aged just 40 years old this week from a rare liver disease.

Shock at such an early death

The world was shocked by his death so soon after retiring from the international stage as one of the greatest.

Lomu was one of those sportsmen who will be remembered more for his charisma than the caps he won and the tries he scored.

He is in no record book for either accomplishment, but his team mates, opponents and rugby fans respected him as a no-nonsense battering ram with the physique and courage to run at a defence and smash his way forward with utter determination and brute force.

He was a battler, not a bruiser, a fighter, not a failure.

Standing at 6 feet 5 inches, weighing 19 stone and fast enough to zip over 100 metres at 10.8 seconds, he Lomu was a formidable force of nature.

Gentle giant

Lomu, the gentle giant, made his international debut for New Zealand at the 1995 Rugby World Cup at 19 years old.

He played 63 times for the All Blacks, scoring 185 points, including 37 tries.

What is even more astonishing is that Lomu was first diagnosed with his kidney problem before he played in the World Cup. The illness cut short a spectacular career and meant he had to retire from rugby aged 27 years old.

His regret, he told friends and family, was his illness only let him play to 80% of his potential as he had to spend up to six hours a day hooked up to a dialysis machine.

That’s some consolation to the professional athletes he left floored in his wake , but as hard a man as Lomu was, he played fair and not from anger or spite.