Death of a giant

All Black Jonah Lomu, who died yesterday, is being hailed as the best to ever play rugby

New Zealand winger Jonah Lomu, who died yesterday, has been hailed as the best to ever play the game. Mark Baker / Reuters
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The death of Jonah Lomu yesterday quickly divided UAE society into two groups: those who had never heard of the New Zealand rugby legend and those who were in awe of the skills of the man many say is the best to have ever played the game. Such was Lomu's brilliance, there was no middle ground.

His death at the age of 40 reflected the way his immense natural talent – he stood nearly two metres tall and had the brawn required for rugby but could run 100m in under 11 seconds – was matched by similarly scaled challenges, including the debilitating kidney disease that cut short his career and contributed to his death.

Lomu was just 20 years old when he gained worldwide fame for his barnstorming performance in the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa, including a try against England that was recently dubbed as the best of any World Cup. But he gained equal respect off the field for his humility and generosity. A paradox of his unexpected death is that now even more people will be aware of his immense talent.