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Jonah Lomu hailed as superstar of world rugby

Lomu had been waiting for another kidney transplant and had been undergoing dialysis treatment.

FILE: Former New Zealand winger Jonah Lomu runs through England's fullback Mike Catt during the Rugby World Cup semi-final match between New Zealand and England 18 June 1995 in Cape Town. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Springbok winger Bryan Habana says Jonah Lomu was in a league of his own and his advent changed the game in his days as a player.

The former New Zealand international rugby, widely regarded as one of the game's finest players ever and who South Africans will remember from the 1995 Rugby World Cup, died in Auckland at the age of 40.

Habana, who shares the world cup record of most tries in the tournament with Lomu, says he was unique.

"And I said in 2007, I don't think I can never be compared to Lomu, the way he changed the game. He's a class act, he did in two tournaments. He became the first global superstar of the game ever produced and I've got unbelievable amount of respect for him."

The news came in a statement from the New Zealand Rugby Union on twitter earlier today.

Afamily spokesman has described his death as "totally unexpected".

NZR CEO Steve Tew: "We're all shocked and deeply saddened at the sudden death of Jonah Lomu....

Lomu was described by many as rugby union's first global superstar.

His size and speed revolutionised the game.

He scored 43 tries in 73 matches for New Zealand between 1994 and 2002 and was diagnosed with a serious kidney condition while still playing.

It forced him to quit the game and he had a kidney transplant in 2004, but it stopped functioning in 2011.

Lomu was on dialysis and hoping for a second kidney transplant.

Despite never winning the world cup, he is the joint top try-scorer in its history scoring 15 tries in just two completions.

GLOBAL REACTION:

He turned men into boys on the pitch. He turned boys into men off it. RIP Jonah Lomu @captainstarship pic.twitter.com/jm72uVdrH7

NEXT @CrowdGoesWildNZ remembers the great sporting legend before the FTA premiere of Jonah Lomu: Back To South Africa at 7.30pm #RIPJonah

Seeing Jonah Lomu play in the 1995 Rugby World Cup was one *the* great sights in sport. So sad he's died. #RIP pic.twitter.com/TUuo13XIo6

RIP Jonah Lomu who at his peak could run 100m in 10.8 and played for NZ rugby for 18 years. Gone too soon at 40. #tragedy

Jonah Lomu died?! So sad to hear :( One of rugbys greats. RIP

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