Jonah Lomu

One of the finest rugby union players to have graced the game and a favourite son of New Zealand, Jonah Lomu, died unexpectedly overnight at the age of 40.

He had arrived back in Auckland from overseas on Tuesday.

The former All Blacks winger, whose imposing physique and often brutal running game provoked in opponents equal amounts of admiration and fear, had suffered from health problems since calling time on his playing career in 2002 due to a rare kidney disease, nephrotic syndrome. He underwent a kidney transplant in 2004 and had been on dialysis treatment for the past 10 years.

Details of the exact cause of his death remain unclear.

“The family are obviously devastated, as are friends and acquaintances,” John Mayhew, the former All Blacks doctor, said. “The family have requested privacy at this stage, they are obviously going through a terrible time. It was totally unexpected.” (