All Blacks legend Jonah Lomu dies, aged 40


Rugby greats have joined with fans to mourn the death of the sport's first global superstar Jonah Lomu.

Former All Blacks doctor John Mayhew confirmed to 3 News Lomu died overnight.

NZ Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said he was shocked and deeply saddened at the sudden death.

"We're lost for words and our heartfelt sympathies go out to Jonah's family," Tew said.

"Jonah was a legend of our game and loved by his many fans both here and around the world."

Lomu had recently been in the United Kingdom to attend the Rugby World Cup.

Jonah's last haka:

He quit the sport in 2002 after 73 games for the All Blacks because of Nephrotic syndrome, a rare kidney disease.

He has been on dialysis treatment for more than a decade.

Related: DUNCAN GARNER – Jonah – My personal thoughts

Lomu scored 37 tries in 63 Tests and is regarded as one of New Zealand's greatest wingers.

His spectacular performances at the 1995 Rugby World Cup made him one of the sport's most recognisable global figures. 

Tributes pour in

The rugby world has been quick to pay tribute to the man who changed the game forever and became a household name around the world.

Laurie Mains, who first selected Lomu in the All Blacks as a 19-year-old in 1994, said the game had lost a giant.

"He was something the world just hadn't seen," Mains told 3News.

Despite his superstar status, Mains said he never let it get to his head.

"He always had time for anyone in the game of rugby.

"He would give assistance wherever he could in amateur rugby. He was just a lovely gentleman."

England great Jonny Wilkinson said: "I am so, so devastated to hear of the passing away of JONAHTALILOMU The greatest superstar and just a fabulous human being. Deeply saddened."

Radio broadcaster Grant Kereama who donated a kidney to Lomu in 2004 said on Facebook: "Devastated ... I love you, my brother."

Parliament interrupted debate so rival parties could mark Lomu's death.

"There will only ever be one Jonah Lomu and we mourn his passing," Sports Minister Jonathan Coleman said.

"He was a man who rose from humble beginnings to become the first ever world rugby superstar."