Wellington - Queen Elizabeth II offered her
condolences over Jonah Lomu's death on Friday as the rugby legend's family
revealed they were planning a send-off as big as the great man himself.
The family said they had been overwhelmed
by a global "outpouring of love" after the charismatic winger died
unexpectedly on Wednesday aged just 40, leaving a wife and two young sons.
Former All Blacks coach John Hart said
feelings were so intense in Lomu's native New Zealand that Auckland's Eden Park
stadium may be needed as a venue for a public memorial.
Flanked by the player's relatives outside
the family's Auckland home, Hart said Prime Minister John Key's office had
relayed condolences from the Queen to Lomu's widow Nadene.
"(She) has written to the prime
minister specifically asking for a message to be sent to Nadene and the family
to say how much she mourns the loss as well," he told reporters outside
Lomu's Auckland home.
Tributes for the man hailed as rugby's
first global superstar have come from well beyond the sporting world, including
Hollywood stars, politicians and the many charities he supported.
Hart also revealed more about Lomu's death,
saying he had just returned to Auckland after "a magic time" at the
Rugby World Cup, which was won by his beloved All Blacks.
Hart said the family enjoyed a stopover in
Dubai and there were no signs when they arrived home of any issues with the
chronic kidney disease that had plagued Lomu since his playing days.
"He went to bed on Tuesday night and he
was fine, unfortunately when they awoke mid-morning they found him dead,"
"He clearly had cardiac arrest,"
he added, saying the heart seizure was undoubtedly related to his kidney
Hart said farewell arrangements were still
being discussed but they were likely to include a large public memorial,
possibly at the 50 000-capacity Eden Park.
A private funeral would follow the next
Standing behind Hart as he spoke about
farewelling her son, Lomu's mother Hepi broke down in tears when he mentioned
that Friday was her birthday.
Lomu's father-in-law Mervyn Quirk said the
messages of support were helping the family through "an incredibly
"We are truly touched by the
outpouring of love for Jonah and the support for our family," he said.
"While we grieve for a husband,
father, son, brother and good mate, we know that many people in New Zealand and
around the world are mourning a very special individual."
British football star David Beckham was
among those who have honoured Lomu, tweeting his sadness at the death of
"this amazing giant of a man".
"A sporting hero and one of the nicest
people you could ever wish to meet," he said.
Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman, who
learned of Lomu's story when shooting the movie "Invictus" about the
1995 World Cup that shot him to stardom, said he was "heartbroken" at
"His strength and passion were a
source of inspiration to us all," Freeman tweeted.
Lomu's death has received blanket media
coverage in his homeland, overshadowing Thursday's retirement of fellow All
Black great Richie McCaw.
One broadcaster has set up a
"Jonah" pop-up channel, dedicated to non-stop repeats of highlights
from Lomu's 63-Test career.