Dublin - Much-loved New Zealand rugby legend Jonah Lomu's
loss is keenly felt by the rugby world and on Friday it will mark a year to the
day he passed away aged just 40 after years of battling kidney disease.
Lomu, who through his inherent generosity and medical bills
died virtually penniless leaving behind two young sons Dhyreille and Brayley,
has been very much in the thoughts of the All Blacks this week as they prepare
to play Ireland in Dublin on Saturday and bid to avenge an historic defeat in
Chicago a fortnight ago.
It was Ireland's first win in 29 test meetings spread over
111 years and also stopped in its tracks the All Blacks world mark of 18
successive Test victories.
Motivation enough for the New Zealanders to teach the Irish
a lesson - but Julian Savea, like Lomu a wing, said with the match falling
almost to the day on the anniversary of his death they had another force
driving them on.
"He's a big part of All Blacks' history and was close
to several of the players," said Savea on Thursday.
"It is a privilege and an honour in taking that
motivation into this week and the game.
"What he did for the All Blacks jersey is
astonishing," added the 26-year-old, who is a two-time world player of the
year nominee and like Lomu made an immediate impression on the game in scoring
a hat-trick of tries against the Irish in 2012.
Lomu for his part scored 37 tries in 63 Tests including a
memorable quadruple against England in the 1995 World Cup quarter-final, the
England defence being disdainfully shoved aside by his huge physique - literally using fullback Mike Catt as a step ladder going for the line for one
of the touchdowns.
However, he was to never lift the World Cup losing to South
Africa that year and then ambushed by an on fire France in the 1999
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said Lomu, whose fame
stretched way beyond the boundaries of his sport and even touched Queen
Elizabeth II as she was one of thousands to pay tribute to him after his death,
had left an indelible mark on the sport and the All Blacks.
"One of the things that is important is legacy - a
fancy word for history - and Lomu certainly left his own on the All
Blacks," said Hansen.
"The players have talked about him and been aware of
the anniversary this week," added the 57-year-old, who was named world
coach of the year for the fourth time in five years last Sunday.
For All Blacks flyhalf and newly-anointed world player of
the year Beauden Barrett Lomu, who last year in London fulfilled one of his
long held promises to perform the haka in front of his two sons when he did a
promotional event during the World Cup, was one of the all time greats.
"He was a great Hurricane (the same Super Rugby
franchise Barrett plays for) and All Black," said Barrett.
"He's huge in the history of the game."