Why Wales rugby fans still love Jonah Lomu
2 April, 2020, 4:03 pm
The late, great Jonah Lomu is still fondly remembered in Wales for giving away boots, a ghetto blaster, a sofa and a television to teammates during a short stint with the Cardiff Blues.
The All Blacks legend left an indelible impression after 10 games with Cardiff in 2005.
The Wales Online website has published a feature on Lomu’s time in Cardiff, where he made friends with his generosity and humility, on and the field.
Lomu, who died in 2015, was battling kidney problems by 2005 and was past the prime which earned him 37 tries in 63 All Blacks tests between 1994 and 2002.
The first superstar of the professional rugby era was still, however, a massive drawcard in a country which rivals New Zealand for rugby obsession. Wales great Phil Bennett quipped of Lomu’s arrival: “This is like bringing [Diego] Maradona to play for Cardiff City or the Swans [Swansea City].”
Lomu was paid around $6000 per week by Cardiff and was worth every penny. There were ‘full house’ signs out at most of his home games at the famous Cardiff Arms Park ground, and, while he scored just one try for the Blues, fans admired his commitment and his ability to bring teammates into play.
But it was the big man’s generosity off the field which continues to be admired by his Cardiff coach and captain.
“When Jonah went back home, he left his massive ghetto blaster beat box for our gym because it was much better than the little hi-fi we had,” Cardiff’s 2005 captain Rhys Williams told Wales Online.
“He left his TV for one of the Academy players and gave his sofa to Lee Thomas, who was a young kid at the time.
“He was just such a likeable guy and so generous.”
Cardiff’s 2005 coach, former Wales and British and Irish Lions prop Dai Young, remembers Lomu arranging new boots for teammates.
“We were all blown away by how nice a bloke he was and how humble he was for somebody who was such a superstar in the game,” Young told Wales Online.
“There were no airs and graces to him.”