Friday, August 28, 2015

Jonah Lomu. True Great. Man and Player.

In all other aspects of life, I love the English. They are my friends, my colleagues, often my inspiration. But I am a passionate Welshman and rugby player (ex). Whenever I see the red rose on a white shirt in the vacinity of an oval ball, a mist envelops me with an overwhelming desire to see the English vanquished, crushed even. Oh the joy of recalling Scott Gibbs dancing through the defence, Henson's mighty winning kick, Jamie Roberts galloping through the demoralised English to win the Chamionship by 30-3. But nothing will ever top Jonah Lomu in the 1995 semi final. I stood stunned before our TV as Jonah ran through Underwood, Catt and Andrew as if they were mere cardboard cut outs.
I've always liked the idea of New Zealand. Where we have England, they have the brash Aussies. We have had Gareth Edwards, JPR and George North. They have had McCaw, Carter, the mighty Meads, and so many others. And then there's Lomu. Something else. Jim White wrote a lovely piece about him in yesterday's Telegraph. Lomu did those great things while suffering kidney disease. Just imagine what he could have done if 100% fit.
I met Jonah socially. Well sort of. When I recovered my feet after a lower bowel re-section, removing my bowel, other bits and cancerous tumour, in 2002, aged 58, I decided I wanted to play rugby again. Decided to start a Welsh Parliamentary XV to take on the world. Needed some publicity. Jonah, who was playing for Cardiff agreed to let the BBC film him coaching me in scrumaging tactics. He was huge, and gentle, and polite. Two men recovered and playing again. I was in awe. 
Our rugby was sort of similar (in style rather than standard). Big men who ran fast, and through opponents rather than around them. We both became wingers by accident - put there because no- one else was available, and proved difficult to stop. I was a big winger in the 1960s.
Jonah Lomu has always suffered renal disease. He's had a kidney transplant in 2004. Things went wrong in 2011, and he needs another transplant. He's on dialysis until a new kidney is found. During the World Cup he's touring the country speaking and visiting dialysis units. If he were to come to visit the Welshpool unit, a thousand wild buffalo would not keep me away. I really must write to him tomorrow. A truly great player. And great man.

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