Jonah Lomu’s name is synonymous with modern rugby. However, surprisingly, he was one of the youngest players throughout the world to ever compete in professional rugby and his career has been relatively short lived, practically ending at the age of just 32.
Although he is of Tongan descent, Jonah has always played for New Zealand and has been a member of the All Blacks throughout the majority of his national rugby career. He was the youngest ever member to join the All Blacks, playing his first game at the age of 19 on 26th June 1994. Lomu is regarded as one of the most intimidating players on the rugby field, and his status was reflected by his induction to the International Rugby Hall of Fame on 9th October 2007.
Lomu’s popularity is unquestionably due to his fast rise to fame within the sporting world at such a young age, teamed with his original and domineering style on the pitch. His best seasons came at the very start of his professional career, in 1996 and 1999, when he was seen as the star of the All Blacks. His statistics below show the contrast between him first exploding onto the rugby scene and in recent years, when he has been disabled by his health.
Jonah’s first World Cup in 1995 was when his name truly began to be learnt around the world. He stunned audiences by scoring 7 tries in 5 games, 4 of them occurring in the semi-final again England. Many were not convinced by his aggressive and antagonistic style of play, which some believe became characteristic of the All Blacks, and Will Carling is famously quoted to have said He is a freak, and the sooner he gets away the better. Although the All Blacks did not win the World Cup that year, Lomu’s performance on the field had left its mark on the history of rugby.
Lomu also dominated the Tri Nations Series in 1996, with the All Blacks beating the Wallabies (Australia) 43-6 in large part due to Jonah, who scored 3 of the tries. Lomu led the All Blacks to become the first ever Tri Nations Champions that year. However, later in 1996, Lomu was diagnosed with a rare and serious kidney disorder which prevented him from playing rugby for the majority of the following year. He received dialysis treatment for this and, although he improved, the treatment left him with severe nerve damage to his legs and feet. Doctors told Lomu that he must find a suitable kidney donor, otherwise he would be left in a wheelchair within a few years. By 1998 he was back on form and won a gold medal in the Sevens Rugby Event for New Zealand in the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.
In 2004 a suitable kidney donor was found in Wellington radio presenter Grant Kareama, and he underwent the operation on 2th July. Shortly afterwards, Lomu announced that he was planning on a comeback. Unfortunately, he then picked up a shoulder injury whilst playing for Martin Johnson’s invitational XV, so when he joined North Harbour soon after, he was forced to confine his duties to the coaching team.
For a while, Lomu turned to playing for Welsh rugby teams, including Cardiff, although he made no secret of the fact he always hoped to return to playing rugby for his home country. After numerous other injuries affecting his wrist and ankles that often left him sitting on the bench, Lomu aimed to be in good enough condition to be able to play for the All Blacks in the 2007 Rugby World Cup. Although he played for the last 26 minutes for North Harbour in the 2006 Air New Zealand Cup he was not signed for the New Zealand Super 14 Team and was thus was not considered for the All Blacks’ World Cup squad. However, 2007 was not a totally disappointing year as, on 4th June, he was appointed as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit as part of the Queen’s birthday celebrations.
- Birth date – 12 May 1975
- Height – 1.96m (6ft 5”)
- Weight – 125kg (19st)
- Chest – 116 cm (46”)
- Hips – 125cm (49”)
- Boot Size – 12 (UK)
Listed below are Lomu’s statistics (in reverse order) for all the New Zealand teams for which he has played over his career.
- Hurricanes (2003) – 1 game, 0 tries, 0 points
- Sevens (2002) – 3 games, 10 tries, 50 points
- Lions (2002) – 3 games, 0 tries, 0 points
- All Blacks (2002) – 5 games, 5 tries, 15 points
- Hurricanes (2002) – 9 games, 9 tries, 5 points
- Hurricanes (2001) – 9 games, 9 tries, 20 points
- Wainuiomata (2001) – 1 games, 0 tries, 0 points
- Barbarians (2001) – 2 games, 9 tries, 25 points
- NZ sevens (2001) – 2 games, 10 tries, 50 points
- Wainuiomata (2001) – 1 game, 0 tries, 0 points
- World Barbarians (2001) – 1 game, 0 tries, 0 points
- Wainuiomata (2000) – 1 game, 2 tries, 10 points
- Hurricanes (2000) – 6 games, 6 tries, 30 points
- New Zealand All Blacks (1994-2000) – 52 games, 36 tries, 180 points
- NZ Tests (1994-2000) – 43 games, 29 tries, 145 points
- Chiefs (1999) – 8 games, 2 tries, 20 points
- New Zealand “A” (1998-1999) – 99 games, 3 games, 15 points
- Counties Manakau (1994-1999) – 98 games, 19 tries, 98 points
- Auckland Blues (1996-1998) – 96 games, 13 tries, 65 points
- NZ Trials (1994-1996) – 2 games, 15 tries, 25 points
- NZ Barbarians (1996) – 1 game, 0 tries, 0 points
- North Island (1995) – 1 game, 2 tries, 10 points
- Presidents XV (1995) – 1 game, 2 tries, 10 points
- NZ Harlequins (1995) – 1 game, 3 tries, 15 points
- NZ Colts (1994) – 3 games, 5 tries, 25 points
Lomu also holds an unbeaten record of 15 tries in World Cup Tournaments, and has scored 8 tries against England during all his World Cups which is more than any other All Black.