New Zealand
Tana Umaga; There will never be another player like Jonah Lomu
ESPN Staff
November 18, 2015
Umaga shocked and devastated by Lomu death

Former All Blacks centre Tana Umaga has paid tribute to Jonah Lomu saying there will never be another player quite like him.

Umaga, who won 74 caps for New Zealand and is now the head coach of the Blues, was speaking following the sudden death of All Blacks legend Lomu on Wednesday. "There's never been another Jonah Lomu," Umaga told the New Zealand Herald. "Everyone's tried to manufacture one. They've tried to put forwards out into the backs and tried to put someone on the wing who was the same size. But there was no one else like him. And, to be honest, there probably never will be.

"He was a unique individual as well. He did live his life in a bit of a goldfish bowl, after that [1995] World Cup, and he did it really well. He understood the expectations on him, he understood the new guidelines in his life he had to live within.

"We sat on the outside seeing all the accolades he was getting but knowing that it came at a price. He let us know there was certain responsibilities to what you did and that's how he helped players - just letting them know the responsibility to becoming an All Black, of being in the spotlight. He kind of led the way in that."

All Blacks legend Jonah Lomu dies (Australia only)

Umaga said Lomu "single-handedly put rugby back on the map" following his incredible performances in the 1995 World Cup. He added: "We've got to make sure we understand that and respect that. You go anywhere and, although the All Blacks are huge, the one player they talk about is Jonah Lomu. That's who they know."

With the tributes pouring in for Lomu, World Cup-winning coach Graham Henry also paid tribute to the great man, saying: "It is just so sad, I saw him at the World Cup and he looked so well. It's just a hell of a shock."

Henry added: "He was a very shy boy...he would hardly say a couple of sentences.

"He was educated through the game to a large extent. In recent times he had become a highly sought after ambassador for the game. He spoke exceptionally well. I remember hearing him speak at a couple of functions and being very, very impressed."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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