New Zealand
Richie McCaw hails Jonah Lomu 'a great man and a great All Black'
November 19, 2015
'McCaw an icon of the sport'

Richie McCaw first had to say goodbye before he could call time on his rugby career little more than 24 hours after the sudden death of Jonah Lomu had shocked the world.

The dual Rugby World Cup-winning All Blacks captain announced his retirement from the game after a world-record 148 Tests but not before he put someone else first - in the same selfless way he put his body on the line over 14 years.

New Zealand's Richie McCaw prepares to announce his retirement from rugby, Wellington, New Zealand, November 19, 2015
New Zealand's Richie McCaw prepares to announce his retirement from rugby © Getty Images

"He was a great man and a great All Black," McCaw said of Lomu, a team-mate when the young flanker made his Test debut against Ireland in 2001.

"To play alongside a guy that you watched as a young fella was pretty amazing. I was lined up for the first anthem and I was standing beside guys like Jonah as a 20-year-old - that was an unreal experience."

Lomu scored one of his 37 Test tries in that 40-29 win in Dublin, and it was on that tour that McCaw found out what a global star Lomu was.

"We got to a training ground where there were hundreds of people in Ireland and I hopped off the bus and a whole mob came at me and I thought `this is pretty cool to be an All Black', but they just kept running past and behind me was Jonah and that was the man they were after. "He's a legend of the game, I think bigger overseas than he is here in New Zealand," McCaw said.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, meanwhile, said Lomu was one of the greats of the team but humble.

"The biggest thing is not the fact that we've lost an All Black, because we have lost many All Blacks over the years, but the fact we have a man who has left behind a family - two young sons and a wife," Hansen said.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to them."


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