All Black star Lomu died almost penniless
ALL Black Jonah Lomu may have been one of the biggest names in rugby but he was nearly broke when he died, the organisers of a trust set up to support his young sons said on Tuesday.
Lomu's sudden death last month at the age of 40, following a long battle with a rare kidney disorder, brought outpourings of sympathy from around the world. But it has emerged that the commercially in-demand personality had few financial assets.
In response, New Zealand Rugby Players Association chief executive Rob Nichol said the Jonah Lomu Legacy Trust had been established by business people and friends of the hulking winger to support his children Dhyreille, six, and Brayley, five.
Nichol told Radio NewstalkZB that Lomu's wealth from a stellar career did not match people's expectations and he may have been a victim of his own generosity, where he often helped others at the expense of his own family.
"The estate has to go through a probate period, but we don't see any financial benefit or proceeds going to his family," Nichol said.
"The impression that he was a global superstar doing all this stuff, I think over time, frankly, it probably wasn't as substantial as people just assumed.
"He's clearly taken on obligations, financial or otherwise, on behalf of others and that has definitely been at the expense of his family."
Close friend and fellow All Black Josh Kronfeld told the New Zealand Herald players of Lomu's era did not get paid big bucks.
"People read what Richie McCaw and Dan Carter make playing for the All Blacks and assume those figures are what Jonah was on from the mid-1990s on but that's just not right," he said. "That sort of money wasn't around for any players in our era, including Jonah."
He added that Lomu's earning potential after retirement was also affected by his health problems.
While it was not unusual for people to die broke, Nichol believed Lomu deserved special attention.
"What we can't ignore is that Jonah Lomu was a phenomenal success for rugby, he took rugby to the world to a certain extent. And we have all benefited from that," he said.