Watching Lomu a privilege - Brooke


Zinzan Brooke has described playing with New Zealand legend Jonah Lomu as a privilege.

Lomu, who died suddenly on Wednesday at the age of 40, enjoyed a storied playing career, which was cut short by a rare kidney syndrome.

Brooke featured alongside wing Lomu in the 1995 World Cup, a tournament on which Lomu had a huge impact thanks in part to a stunning four-try performance in a 45-29 win over England in the semi-final.

Recalling that game and Lomu's superb first try in which he flattened Mike Catt, Brooke told Omnisport: "Probably the one that stood out, because it was the semi-final, against England where Jonah was asked to say a few words prior to kick-off.

"Well it was actually the captain's meeting, Sean Fitzpatrick asked Jonah to say a few words, and his few words were 'I'm prepared to die in the All Black jersey tomorrow'.

"And that sort of set the tone about what we all remember, and the clips of Jonah scoring four of the best tries, no more so than what I think was the first one when, I think, Rob Andrew tried to make a tackle, Will Carling attempted to grab his ankles and then Mike Catt was the result of getting squashed into the surface. 

"It was a delight. I know we didn't win the World Cup, but we were part of the team that set a tone.

"He'll go down, for me, as the best. That's a massive comment to say he's the best winger I've played with or against in the history of rugby union.

"We have all been blessed with the privilege of playing with him and seeing him. The legacy will live on."

Brooke was particularly shocked by Lomu's passing, having recently met with him during the Rugby World Cup.

He added: "I was only with him just before the quarter-finals, semi-finals, and then I was with him prior to doing the World Cup promotion.

"I thought he was actually okay, his health was alright. I know that he was on dialysis at the time, but it obviously must have been a little bit worse than what we anticipated.

"It's such sad news and I feel very sorry for his wife Nadine and the kids. Just absolutely devastating."