Former All Black rugby union star Jonah Lomu has died unexpectedly at the age of 40.
Lomu’s doctors confirmed the his passing on Wednesday morning, saying his sudden demise had devastated his loved ones.
“The family have requested privacy at this stage, they are obviously going through a terrible time,” former All Blacks doctor John Mayhew told The Guardian.
“It was totally unexpected. Jonah and his family arrived back from the United Kingdom last night and he suddenly died this morning.”
Lomu, one of greatest rugby players of all time, retired from the sport in 2002 due to nephrotic syndrome, a rare kidney disease.
Unfortunately, a kidney transplant in 2004 was unsuccessful and Lomu had been on dialysis for the past decade.
Lomu had only on Monday sent a Tweet from Dubai, where he was holidaying with family after doing some work at the Rugby World Cup in London.
The man once seen as the most unstoppable force in international rugby made his Test debut in 1994, but he rose to stardom with magnificent displays for New Zealand in the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa.
His combination of size and speed made him one of the most dynamic attacking players in the world – he scored 43 tries in 73 matches for New Zealand before quitting due to ill-health in 2002.
Most recently Lomu was in Great Britain last month to attend the 2015 Rugby World Cup, which the All Blacks won defeating Australia in the final.
New Zealand prime minister John Key offered his condolences on Twitter.
“Deeply saddened to hear of Jonah Lomu’s unexpected passing this morning. The thoughts of the entire country are with his family,” he wrote.
Current All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams told Fairfax Lomu was an inspiring figure for young islanders.
“When we saw him on the world stage, doing what he was doing and accomplishing what he was accomplishing, that gave us a sense of pride and the feeling that we could do that, that any islander could do that kind of thing.”
Williams said Lomu’s proud Tongan heritage helped him feel pride in his own Samoan heritage.
Lomu is survived by his wife Nadene and their sons Brayley, six, and Dhyreille, five.
Shocked, thoughts are with the Lomu family right now ❤️❤️
— Sonny Bill Williams (@SonnyBWilliams) November 18, 2015
— JONAH LOMU (@JONAHTALILOMU) November 15, 2015
– With AAP