Jonah Lomu, 40, Rugby Great of All Blacks, Dies

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Jonah Lomu, in 2002, was one of the most recognized rugby players in the world.

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Jamie Mcdonald/Getty Images Europe

Jonah Lomu, one of rugby’s greatest players, has died in Auckland, New Zealand. He was 40.

His death, after kidney disease that ended his international career in 2002, was announced on the Twitter account of the All Blacks and New Zealand Rugby.

A winger remarkable for his speed, power and size — 6 foot, five inches, and 265 pounds — he became a star virtually overnight during the 1995 Rugby World Cup in Cape Town, scoring four tries to lead New Zealand over England in the semifinals. He became one of the sport’s most popular figures as well as its first millionaire.

He was inducted into the International Rugby Board Hall of Fame in October 2011.

His wife, Nadene Lomu, said in a statement that his death was a “devastating loss.”

“I ask that our privacy, especially the privacy of our two very young boys, be respected as we take them through this traumatic time,” she said.

Jarryd Hayne, an Australian rugby star who joined the San Francisco 49ers, called Mr. Lomu “ the greatest rugby player to ever lace the boots” in a Twitter post on Tuesday night.

Mr. Lomu, who was of Tongan ancestry, was born in Auckland in 1975.

At age 20, during the World Cup that would make him famous, he had already been diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome, requiring a kidney transplant in 2004.

He attempted a comeback two years later, but was never able to perform to his previous level.

That transplanted kidney ultimately failed in 2011, just after he took part in the opening ceremony of the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.

In an interview with The New York Times last year, Mr. Lomu said he was on a kidney transplant list and underwent dialysis every other day.

Despite his health problems, Mr. Lomu had been posting on Twitter from a worldwide tour called “Unstoppable” as recently as last month. It had been organized to raise money for a number of charities.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two sons, Brayley and Dhyreille.

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