Wellington: All Black Jonah Lomu may have been one of the biggest names in rugby union but he was near to broke when he died, the organisers of a trust set up to support his young sons said yesterday.
Lomu's sudden death last month at the age of 40, following a years-long battle with a rare kidney disorder, brought outpourings of sympathy from around the world, not only from sports personalities but also from heads of state and Hollywood stars. But it has emerged 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 (6) and Brayley (5).
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 family.
Nichol said: "The impression that he was a global superstar doing all this stuff, I think over time, it probably wasn't as substantial as people assumed. Yet he had this sense of pride that he wanted to maintain the front that he could help everyone and anyone who came knocking asking for assistance.
"He's clearly taken on obligations, financial or otherwise for others at the expense of his family. People presumed that he was able to earn quite good money over the last 10 to 15 years, but his illness and the treatment he has had to go through have severely hindered his ability to do that," said Nichol.