18 Nov 2015

Jonah Lomu: share your stories

8:54 pm on 18 November 2015

As New Zealand farewells one of its sporting greats, RNZ Community Editor Megan Whelan looks back on when she met Lomu - and asks readers and listeners to share their own memories.

Jonah Lomu in 2002

Jonah Lomu in 2002 - four years after RNZ's Megan Whelan met him. Photo: AFP

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Megan's story

In the days before I was a journalist, long before I got to help cover a Rugby World Cup, I was a waitress, and the hotel I worked at would host a lot of national and international sports teams.

Sports teams were either great, or they were rude, drunk and horrible.

Late one night, in about 1997 or 1998, not long before the restaurant closed, a hulking figure appeared in the doorway, and asked if I'd mind organising him a steak. I got the restaurant to make him a meal, and he asked if I'd mind sitting with him while he ate.

While he ate, in the end, two steaks - nearly a kilo of meat - I sat and chatted to him. About rugby, and life and rugby, and being an All Black. I was in my early 20s, a fangirl, and astonished at my luck.

Nearly 20 years later, I have no idea what we talked about in detail, but I remember him being kind and quiet and gentle - nothing like what you'd imagine if you'd ever watched him play.

A day later, I walked out a door, and collided with a person - my head at about their top rib - and realised I'd walked straight into Jonah Lomu.

All I can tell you is that his chest was hard enough to hurt my head. He smiled, said hi and went back to tossing around a ball with his teammates.

It's a small story, but it's the kind of story a lot of New Zealanders seem to have about Jonah Lomu.

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