New Zealand rugby union legend Jonah Lomu wants to live to see his two young sons grow into adulthood and certainly not experience the agony he has gone through with the kidney ailment that has bedevilled him for over a decade.
The 40-year-old former wing had to quit the sport in 2002 because of Nephrotic syndrome, a rare kidney disease, and having had one kidney transplant is now searching for that to be replaced.
While he awaits a donor he undergoes six hours of dialysis treatment every other day.
However, Lomu has not let that prevent him from travelling to England to attend the World Cup — which despite hs headline grabbing tries he never got to lift the trophy, losing in the 1995 final and the 1999 semi-finals — along with his third wife Nadine, and two sons Dhyreille, aged five, and six-year-old Brayley.
All three were present — the two boys sporting jackets with Lomu adorning the back — which was especially poignant for Lomu as he performed the haka in London’s iconic Covent Garden on Wednesday.
“I didn’t think I would perform the haka again,” Lomu told AFP.
“My two sons have never seen me do the haka before and this has brought it to life for me. It is something special for them as previously they have only seen videos of me doing it.”
Lomu, who performed the haka as part of his role as Mastercard ambassador for the tournament, had a stormy relationship with his own father, who died two years ago, but he is determined he makes the most of his own sons.
“I do want to see them grow into grown men,” said Lomu.
“Whether they play rugby or not doesn’t matter. I just want them to be healthy and to grow. One thing as a dad you don’t want is for them to come to any harm or anything bad to happen to them.
“The illnesses and pains I’m going through, I don’t want them to experience that, no dad wants that.
“This (the World Cup trip) is a great experience for them. This is where rugby started, so what a way to take two kids on a journey.
“I’m their dad and I’m trying to set an example and my beautiful wife ensures I do everything I need to do to do so.”
Indeed Lomu, who sports tattoos of his two boys names on his right arm and that of his wife on his left one, said Nadine — who Lomu revealed is responsible for Dhyreille’s name coming up with it at 1:00am while pregnant and eating pizza — is an immeasurable support to him.
“Rugby has prepared me for the challenges of life, but the thing is the most important thing is that your pillars are rock solid and the family keeps you in great stead,” said Lomu.
“I am thankful that I have a beautiful wife and the kids are here. Nadine makes sure that my family stays together.
“She is my manager, my wife, my best friend and my boss!”
Lomu, scorer of 37 tries in 63 Test appearances, still has enormous pull as was clear from the amount of people, young and old who sidled up and asked to have photos taken with him which he agreed to — three policemen waited for 20 minutes to have their photo taken with him.
“Its quite humbling for people to recognise me, given it is now 20 years ago since I first played in the World Cup.
“Made all the more humbling when kids come up to me and say ‘I never saw you play live but I watch you on you tube’ and other children saying they want to play like me.” – Agence France-Presse