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Friday 20 November 2015 | Published in Regional


NUKU‘ALOFA– The Tonga Rugby Union says the whole country is in mourning after the death of Jonah Lomu.

The 40-year-old collapsed and died at his home Wednesday morning not long after returning home from Dubai where he was holidaying after attending the Rugby World Cup in the UK.

Lomu’s parents were Tongan and the President and Chair of the Tonga Rugby Union, Epeli Taione, says his death is being felt hard in the country.

“It’s a very sad day for rugby as a whole. I think the whole of Tonga is in mourning at the moment. They’ve lost one its favourite sporting sons and a huge icon worldwide.

“While we’re very proud for Jonah and everything that he’s given back to rugby and especially Tonga we are very sad that it is quite young and to be taken away so young it’s devastating for all Tongans”.

Taione was a part of the ‘Ikale Tahi squad at the 1999 World Cup but says he’s grateful he never had to try and tackle him.

“We were playing New Zealand down in Ashton Gate and I didn’t get the chance to get on the field to play against him – it was just Barbarians rugby playing with him and also the World XV in Malaysia in 2010, but I never had the chance to play against him.

“ I think I was one of the lucky ones to be on the same field with him rather than against him and to see the reaction worldwide it speaks volumes to the contribution the guy has done and immensely proud to be Tongan”.

Tonga’s Sports Minister Fe’ao Vakata says Lomu brought great pride to the islands.

Vakata says Tonga should mark Lomu’s death and he will bring up the issue at today’s cabinet meeting. - RNZI