Rugby

Catt: Lomu 'put me on the map'

2015-11-18 21:28
Jonah Lomu at the 1995 Rugby World Cup (AP)

London - Former England international Mike Catt said Jonah Lomu had "put me on the map" for the "wrong reasons" as he paid a fond tribute to the late New Zealand star.

Lomu's sudden death at the age of 40 shocked the international rugby union community and led many to recall his breakthrough performance at the 1995 World Cup in South Africa where he established himself as a global superstar of the sport.

Catt has more reason than most to vividly recall Lomu's power and pace at that tournament, with the giant wing literally running over the England fullback during a vain attempt to tackle him before he scored the first of his four tries in the All Blacks' crushing 45-29 semi-final win in Cape Town.

"I laughed at myself," Catt told BBC Radio Five on Wednesday. "The funny thing was that I was lying on the floor (after that tackle), (New Zealand's) Robin Brooke came over to me, tapped me on the cheek and said 'there's more of that to come'."

Catt added: "Lomu put me on the map. Everybody knew who Mike Catt was. All for the wrong reasons of course!"

In an earlier statement issued by England's Rugby Football Union (RFU), Catt said Lomu had "changed rugby union" during the 1995 World Cup, which ended with hosts South Africa beating New Zealand 15-12 in the final.

"I'm massively sad but the legacy he's left is incredible," said Catt, now England's attacking skills coach. "He's inspired millions of people around the world to watch the sport and start playing. He changed rugby union during the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

"Jonah did a lot for charity, he put an awful lot back into the game and I think every rugby player would say if there's anyone who deserved a Rugby World Cup medal it's Jonah.

"It was an amateur game when he played England in 1995 so to put rugby on the map like he did was phenomenal because the following year the game went professional.

"I don't think he understood the impact he had on the game," Catt insisted.

Read more on:    jonah lomu  |  mike catt  |  rugby
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