Jonah Lomu: 1975-2015
Eden Park farewell for All Blacks great Jonah Lomu: as it happened
Sam Bruce
November 29, 2015
Jonah Lomu passed away suddenly after a long-haul flight from Europe © Getty Images

A large crowd gathered at Auckland's Eden Park as New Zealanders took the opportunity to farewell All Blacks great Jonah Lomu.

The legendary winger passed away suddenly under two weeks ago, the 40-year-old 63-Test veteran suffering a heart attack - reportedly the result of a blood clot on the lung.

Tributes have flooded in from across the globe since then, and New Zealanders took their last public chance to remember rugby's first global superstar on a ground where he starred for both the All Blacks and Auckland Blues.

As it happened:

2.55pm: Jonah Lomu exits Eden Park for the final time. RIP, great man.

2.50pm: Lomu's family release thirty doves, symbolising love and peace.

2.45pm Lomu is carried from the stage as three versions of the haka are performed, the second of which features many current and former All Blacks as well as the current Blues and Warriors squads. Following that, students from Lomu's former school, Wesley College, perform their version from the Eden Park stands.

2.42pm Sid Going, President of Hamilton chapter, Church of Latter Day Saints leads crowd in prayer.

"We recognise his amazing athletic attributes but also many Christ-like attributes that he had. We ask that a special spirit and blessing be with his wife and those two little boys ... that they may feel of thy love, that they will at all times be helped by good friends to grow over this pain and sorrow."

2.30pm John Campbell returns to the stage and again thanks Lomu's mum, Hepi, and wife, Nadene, for: "sharing your Jonah with us. He was our Jonah, but first and foremost he was your Jonah. Thank you for sharing him with us."

2.15 - 2.25pm: Eroni Clarke:

"Life wasn't easy being Jonah Lomu. In New Zealand, we love getting people up on that pedestal; but as soon as they get we love nothing more than chopping them down. He was loved by people but there was always someone out there wanting to have a go at him.

"One of the most famous players in the world but also one of the loneliest ... that all changed when Nadene came along and gave him his two sons. All of his mates got brushed from then on.

"Jonah feared no man but he did fear one person, his mum, Hepi. I want to thank all of the Lomu family for sharing your son with us.

"It's hard to imagine anyone scaling Lomu's heights again. The best part about this fulla was that he did it all without arrogance and ego."

On turning down the NFL's Dallas Cowboys, Rush said Lomu told him: "I just want to play rugby with my mates and play in that black jersey for as long as I can."

2.13pm: Eroni Clarke has taken to the stage to tell of his memories of his team-mate and, more importantly, great friend. Clarke hails a man who was a "beast on the field, but so humble off it". Clarke says Lomu was: "never scared of a challenge but a man with a bit of a stubborn streak ... you didn't tell Jonah to do anything for you but if you asked him, he'd run through a brick wall for you."

2.10pm In closing, Hart pays tribute to the work of Michael Jones and Dylan Mika, before telling Lomu's family: "we all share your loss and you have our deepest sympathies...officially we slaute All Black 941, but to the world you will be known as the All Black who made No.11 his own."

2.05pm Hart relays a special thank you to Lomu's doctor, Dr John Mayhew and the man who donated a kidney to extend the legendary winger's life. Grant Kereama.

2.03pm: Hart moves on to the '95 World Cup where Jonah's World Cup heroics stunned the world, giving a special mention to the speedhump Mike Catt.

2pm: Former All Blacks coach John Hart takes to the stage on behalf of the family and begins by thanking all those who have played a part in today's memorial and those who have sent tributes from across the world.

1.42pm Chris Grinter, Lomu's Wesley College mentor, says the All Blacks great arrived with a reputation not about sport but that of a troubled background. But it was victory in 10 of 13 indivduals atletics of a 1989 athletics carnival that things soon changed. Grinter says he allowed Lomu to continue playing rugby league for his Auckland club on the condition that he try rugby when he hit fourth form. In 1990, Grinter invited a 14-year-old to First XV training where he faced many challengers not least of which came from the older boys who wondered why he was there at all. Things soon changed when he became's the side's No.8 and Wesley College went onto win the national schoolboy title. Three years later, when Grinter was coach of Rotorua Boys High, Lomu's Wesley College triumphed for defeated Grinter's side in the national final. Lomu scored five tries, the final one coming at Grinter's feet. Grinter tells the Eden Park audience Lomu looked up and said: "Sir I know you would have wanted me to play well.". Grinter said he replied "not that well".

1.36pm Students from Lomu's primary school, Favona Primary School, take to the stage in a wonderful tribute song and dance to honour their fallen hero.

1:30pm World Rugby chairman Bernard Lapasset says Lomu was: "a giant in and of the game and the sport's first real superstar...a player who terrified defences and thrilled spectators; a man who brought much joy to the rugby community while his impact at Rugby World Cup 2015 was profound." Lapasset also pays tribute to Lomu's involvement in helping to secure rugby's return to the Olympics in its Sevens form and offers his condolences to the All Blacks' friends, family and countrymen.

1.20pm Master of ceremonies John Campbell extends a welcome to the crowd, mentioning the Tongan community, the Blues, the NRL's Warriors, former Wallabies Tim Horan and George Gregan, Lomu's schoolmates, friends and of course his family. Finally, Campbell pays tribute to Lomu's wife Nadene and two boys, saying: "thank you for sharing your Jonah with us one last time".

1.14pm: After a Maori introduction, a beautiful rendition of God Defend New Zealand is led by the Auckland Gospel Choir. Lomu's father-in-law Merve Quirk then leads the service in a prayer, saying he hopes fans across the globe will forever feel the All Black's amazing spirit.

1:00pm Lomu's coffin is carried onto Eden Park with former team-mates Eroni Clarke and Michael Jones among the pall-bearers while a traditional Maori ceremony takes place.

12:49pm : Wallabies great Tim Horan tells TV One of his time rooming with Lomu during a Barbarians week. Horan says Lomu proved a wonderful room-mate because he "allowed me to have the remote" and that the All Black told him not to bother with any backline moves, just that Horan should feed him the ball. Lomu scored three tries.

12:47pm: Former All Blacks and Blues winger Joeli Vidiri tells New Zealand's TV One: "it's a sad day but wonderful to celebrate" the life of his great team-mate.

The service is due to kick off at 1pm (NZT); so we're about 20 minutes from the opening address. Stay tuned.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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