Jonah Lomu

From Academic Kids

Jonah Tali Lomu (born May 12, 1975) is a New Zealand rugby union player who has so far played 73 times (63 of these were test matches) as an All Black debuting in 1994. Lomu, who is currently attempting a comeback after undergoing a kidney transplant in 2004, is generally regarded as the first superstar of rugby union's professional era.

Lomu was born in Auckland, New Zealand of Tongan descent. He grew up in South Auckland and attended Wesley College.

Rugby Career

At 1.96 metres Lomu is as tall as most locks, and at 120 kilograms is as heavy as most prop fowards. Despite his size, he was, when healthy, still able to run 100 metres in 10.8 seconds. At school his sprint training included running around the field, pulling a lawn-roller with a rope tied around his waist.

While at Wesley and being coached by Chris Grinter, Lomu became a mobile loose forward for 5 years in the college's First XV. He was soon noticed by provincial rugby selectors, and played for the Counties Manukau NPC team for around 5 years. Lomu first came to international attention at the 1994 Hong Kong Sevens tournament.

At the age of 19 years and 45 days, Jonah Lomu became the youngest All Black test player as he debuted against France in 1994. His international coming-out party was at the 1995 Rugby World Cup, when he scored seven tries in five matches, including four in the semifinals against England.

His style of play at times defied description; one commentator Keith Quinn was reduced to gasps as Lomu devastated England's backline. Will Carling labelled Lomu 'a freak' after being steamrollered. Lomu's attacking style was pure power; like a force of nature, he had a tendency to run straight into/over any wing foolish enough to get in his way. When at the peak of his powers, he regularly defeated up to five players on the way to the tryline.

At the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur he won a gold medal as part of the New Zealand rugby sevens team. In 1999, he scored eight tries at the Rugby World Cup. Lomu also led the New Zealand Sevens team to victory at the 2001 Sevens World Cup, filling in for star Eric Rush after Rush suffered a broken leg during the competition. Lomu's other provincial teams (NPC and Super 12) included the Auckland Blues, Waikato Chiefs, and later the Wellington Lions and Hurricanes.

For most of his professional career he was managed by raconteur Phil Kingsley-Jones. This contract was amicably terminated in 2004.

In 1995 Jonah won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Overseas Personality Award. Lomu spent a few off-seasons commentating in England, where he is treated like royalty. Despite tempting offers elsewhere, Jonah has remained steadfastly devoted to New Zealand rugby, and is determined to regain an All Black jersey.

After his successful kidney transplant, Lomu has devoted himself to training, and is aiming to play for the All Blacks in the 2007 Rugby World Cup. In January 2005 he announced his intentions to lead a team on June 4 in an exhibition game at Twickenham organized as a testimonial for English rugby great Martin Johnson, who is retiring at the end of the 2004-05 season and will captain the other side. Before coming back, 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. [1] ( On April 8, he signed a two-year contract to play for North Harbour in the NPC. [2] (

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. [3] ( As it turned out, his injury was more serious than originally thought; he is set to undergo surgery on the shoulder that will force him to miss the 2005 NPC season.

There is precedent for a professional athlete returning to competition after kidney transplant surgery; two NBA players, Sean Elliott and Alonzo Mourning, have done so. However, the level of physical impact in rugby is far greater than that in basketball. Whether or not Jonah's comeback quest succeeds, his amazing feats are seared into the memory of New Zealand fans; and he remains one of their most revered sporting icons.

Personal Life

Lomu married South African Tanya Rutter in 1996, but in 1998 they separated.

At the end of 1996 Lomu was diagnosed as having nephrotic syndrome, a rare and serious kidney disorder. His rugby 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.

On August 21, 2003, Lomu married Fiona Taylor on Waiheke Island.

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 is 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 renaissance in June 2005 (see above).

External links

  • Home page (
  • All Black profile (
  • BBC News (
  • TVNZ (

it:Jonah Lomu


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