Wallabies greats Tim Horan and George Gregan have paid tribute to All Blacks legend Jonah Lomu who died aged 40 on Wednesday.
NZ Rugby chief executive Steve Tew confirmed the news which shocked and saddened the rugby community worldwide.
The prototype for the giant wingers of modern day, Lomu was forced to quit the sport in 2002 after 63 Tests for the All Blacks because of Nephrotic syndrome, a rare kidney disease.
He underwent dialysis treatment for more than a decade and suffered occasional setbacks to his health.
Horan, who played a couple of games with the giant winger for the Barbarians, described Lomu as a global superstar and was a kind and gentle person off the field.
“It’s a very big hole that he’s left in the game,” Horan told Fox Sports.
“I’m still in shock as most other people are.
“When I went to the United States just after the 1995 Rugby World Cup, I spoke to someone there and they said all we know about rugby is Jonah Lomu and that’s the imprint he had on the game.
“He was a global superstar and even young kids now, as young as five and six, still know who Jonah Lomu is.
“Off the field, he would be the first player to walk in the Wallaby dressing room, shake your hand and talk to you. He was a very kind person.”
Former Wallabies captain Gregan said Lomu was a great man and he was struggling to come to terms with the loss after catching up with him a few weeks ago at the World Cup final.
“He looked the best I’ve seen him in many years because I’ve seen him for a number of years at Sevens tournaments and around other rugby events and he just had that sparkle and that look of life in his face … I’m totally shocked by this news,” Gregan said.
“He was a gentle giant but when he went on to the field he was an absolute competitor and he had a great way of inspiring the teams that he played with.”
Current Wallaby star Kurtley Beale paid his respects to Lomu on Twitter.
“The King! The game changer! A true gentleman of the game. RIPJonah #Superstar,” Beale tweeted.
ARU boss Bill Pulver also paid tribute to Lomu.
“There will never be another Jonah Lomu. He was rugby’s first genuine superstar and as well as being an extraordinary rugby player he was also an exceptional man who gave everything to the game and his community in Auckland,” Pulver said.
“Jonah’s legacy will live forever in our game, and indeed all over the world.”
Lomu scored 37 tries in 63 Tests and is regarded as one of New Zealand’s greatest wingers.