Former New Zealand international Jonah Lomu has died in Auckland at the age of 40.
Lomu, who won 63 caps for the All Blacks, had suffered from health problems since his retirement from the game in 2002 due to a rare kidney disease.
The kidney stopped functioning in October 2011 and he had been on dialysis ever since but former All Blacks doctor and family friend John Mayhew said the cause of death was cardiac arrest.
A tweet from New Zealand Rugby chief Steve Tew read: “We’re all shocked and deeply saddened at the sudden death of Jonah Lomu.
“Jonah was a legend of our game and loved by his many fans both here and around the world.”
Nadene Lomu, the wife and manager of the rugby great, confirmed Lomu’s death in a statement Wednesday.
“It is with great sadness that I must announce my dear husband Jonah Lomu died [overnight],” said Nadene Lomu.
“This is a devastating loss for our family and may I ask that our privacy, especially the privacy of our two very young boys, be respected as we take them through this traumatic time.
“We’re lost for words and our heartfelt sympathies go out to Jonah’s family.”
The blockbusting winger had only just returned to New Zealand having visited Britain with his family during the Rugby World Cup.
Mayhew told TVNZ’s One News: “Jonah has been in pretty good shape, he arrived back from Dubai yesterday and unfortunately suddenly collapsed and died at home this morning.
“He has been a fantastic person and a great friend, I have been his doctor for a long time. It’s staggering, a very sad day. He’s such a warm person, he was so good to so many people, he has no ego.”
Lomu played for several domestic teams – Auckland Blues, Chiefs and Hurricanes in Super Rugby, as well as North Harbour, Counties Manukau and Wellington.
He also had a stint with Cardiff Blues, for whom he played 10 matches for in the 2005-06 season, before retiring from the game in 2007.
He was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame in 2007 and the IRB Hall of Fame four years later.