All Blacks pay emotional tribute to Jonah Lomu at memorial service

hellomagazine.com

Family, friends and fans of Jonah Lomu said their goodbyes to the former All Blacks rugby player at a public memorial service on Monday. Thousands gathered at Auckland's Eden Park to pay their respects to the 40-year-old, who died of a heart attack earlier this month.

Among the crowd were many of Jonah's former team-mates, who performed a mass Haka in front of his coffin. Players from both the All Blacks and the Hurricanes lined up for the poignant tribute, which they regularly perform before their matches to challenge their opponents.

CLICK TO VIEW FULL GALLERY

Jonah's former teammates performed a Haka at his memorial service

In moving scenes, 12 pallbearers including former All Blacks players Michael Jones and Frank Bunce carried the coffin into the stadium, while Jonah's wife Nadene followed behind with their two sons Brayley, six, and Dhyreille, five.

New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key recorded a message that was played during the service, in which he praised Jonah for making a real difference in people's lives.

JonahLomu-VIEW GALLERY

Jonah passed away following a heart attack on 18 November

"He proved that you can come from anywhere in New Zealand in any background and make it to the top," the Prime Minister said.

Meanwhile former All Blacks coach John Hart spoke on behalf of Jonah's family to thank fans for the outpouring of messages and condolences sent from around the world.

JonahLomuSon-VIEW GALLERY

Jonah's son Dhyreille walked behind his father's coffin

Jonah passed away suddenly on 18 November, just 24 hours after he and his family had returned to Auckland following a short holiday in Dubai. The New Zealand rugby union star had previously attended the Rugby World Cup final in the UK in October, where he cheered the All Blacks to victory against the Wallabies.

Following the announcement of his tragic death, a number of sporting stars including David Beckham and Jonny Wilkinson paid tribute to Jonah, with David writing that he was a "sporting hero and one of the nicest people you could ever wish to meet".

More on: