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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Jonah Lomu wreaking havoc against Australia in 1995

There's no doubt that Jonah Lomu will always be remembered as the man that changed Rugby. A prolific tryscorer and a giant amongst men, at his fittest the All Black scored tries with ease. Today we look at the chaos he caused in one Bledisloe Cup game.

With this year's Super Rugby heading into the knockout stages, the next big thing on the international rugby calendar will be the Rugby Championship, and the trans-Tasman rivalry of the Bledisloe Cup. New Zealand have dominated for years, and it was the same back in 1995.

For those of you who weren't lucky enough to watch his career closely, another huge part of the legend's game was his ability to offload in the tackle and set up tries for those around him.

When we see offload these days one tends to think of the likes of Sonny Bill Williams and fancy passing, but with Lomu it wasn't that at all. It was his ability to beat multiple players, and just as the third or fourth came in to attempt to take him down, he'd get the pass away.

Sly flankers like Josh Kronfeld often benefitted from the ground Lomu made, and so even when the wing was brought down short of the tryline, it often resulted in a try for the All Blacks anyway.

This short video takes a look at this element of his game in just one match, against rivals the Wallabies in 1995, just a few months after he helped New Zealand reach the final at the Rugby World Cup in South Africa. Here he scores one try and sets up three more, as one does.

New Zealand won the game 34-23 to set up a run of seven straight wins over the Wallabies.

We'll feature more from the great man and others in the lead up to the 2014 Rugby Championship.

Posted at 10:58 am | 64 comments

Posted in See it to Believe it

Viewing 64 comments

finedisregard July 16, 2014 1:22 pm

I remember watching Lomu's profile screen on tv back when they had height, weight, club, and OCCUPATION. It said he was a bank teller. I wonder if he ever really worked in a bank.

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10stonenumber10 July 16, 2014 1:25 pm

It would be funny to walk into a Natwest and see him behind the counter in a shirt and glasses.

Having worked in a bank, stocking the safe with bags and bags of coins and kilos of notes (it is done by weight), it did wonders for the shoulders...

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Ando July 16, 2014 6:51 pm

Similarly, I recall they used to list Willie O's occupation as "Piano Mover"...

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Lloyd July 16, 2014 9:41 pm

Pile driver

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Mike July 17, 2014 12:21 am

He definitely was a bank teller. Worked at ASB in Pakuranga. Just down the road from where I live.

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Jeri July 18, 2014 2:26 am

Lol I used to live just 10 minutes from Pakuranga shopping centre

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10stonenumber10 July 16, 2014 1:22 pm

This looks like a throwback to age grade... with that one team who's number 8 was bigger than your coach with half the back line holding onto his shirt.

Size used to create space, now it does the opposite.

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larry July 21, 2014 4:38 pm

You have a good point about space. I wonder if Lomu would have made a really great international number 8. Wasn't that his position in school? His speed and size made him a battering ram on the wing who could also run around and away from tacklers, but when you think about it there's usually been one big player out on the wing for many national sides over the years: David Duckham was a slightly smaller version of Lomu, as was John Kerwin.
The irony is that a small wing on that French side, with two small wingers, took down New Zealand and Johah Lomu in 1999's RWC.

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Manus Duminy July 16, 2014 3:40 pm

Couldn't do it against the Boks, great player that he was. Never scored a try against them. Got tackled silly, though.

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paimoe July 16, 2014 4:21 pm

Lucky Wilson and Cullen picked up the slack against SA at least

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Reality July 16, 2014 4:36 pm

If I remember correctly, he didn't score against Wales either. I wouldn't read into that too much though.

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Full Back July 16, 2014 7:46 pm

Good point, he never did score against Wales, but as you say there's not much to read into. Against both sides he was on the winning side more times than not (even though it was somewhat of a Golden Era for SA), he had his career cut short so there's no knowing what he might have done if he'd been in a position to play on.
Most teams set out to mark him with more than one tackler, a team like New Zealand can usually make the most of that sort of space.

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Canadian content July 17, 2014 10:22 pm

He crushed wales at the 95,rwc

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WelshOsprey July 16, 2014 4:55 pm

Even by todays standards those stats are incredible.

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DrG July 16, 2014 5:52 pm

Wait, I'm confused, where were the swan dives? and why didn't Lomu swan dive on his try?

This is all too much to understand...

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larry July 21, 2014 4:28 pm

It was considered "bad form" then to swan dive when not needed to do so.

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Kiwirugbyman August 08, 2014 12:56 pm

Joah didn't need to swan dive--how he tracked his way to the tryline was ample enough entertainment.-Just ask Rupert Murdoch/Nes Ltd.-Coops

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jimmy23 July 16, 2014 6:24 pm

Jeez, what a beast, still amazing to watch. Julian Savea is the only international player in the modern game who I can think of that comes close to doing this sort of damage on a regular basis.

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DrG July 17, 2014 6:46 am

..and according to google, Savea is shorter and lighter.

Not that I think they're comparable to even Savea or Lomu, but I just checked George North and Alex Cuthbert stats, and both of them are still lighter than Lomu, in fact the only player that I could think of searching that I thought might come close was Matt Banahan:

2.01m and 118kg - even he just matches Lomu weight and is taller - so kg per cm is less...

..and Banahan never really had the impact that Lomu had - whether that is as a result of everyone else on the pitch being bigger and stronger, not having a team that knows how to use a big guy on the wing, or he is just not as good - maybe a product of "English" (Jersey I know) rugby schooling... Maybe had he been in the SH he'd have shone..

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stroudos July 17, 2014 10:26 am

Banaha-hanahan is a very fast lock. He could have played like Courtney Lawes does now - playing the position that you're most suited to physically, (2nd row is where Banners played as a schoolboy), but getting involved in running rugby when the opportunity presents itself. I do wonder if he'd have had a more successful career if he'd been kept in the forward pack. (Not that he's been unsuccessful of course, I mean relatively).

Lomu had the natural skillset of a wing. It's easy to forget his intelligent running lines and his soft passing, because all people tend to remember is what a rampaging beast he was.

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DrG July 17, 2014 4:34 pm

True that Bananaman started life in the second rows, but as is a bit of a common topic at the moment, English - UK - GB - NH? schooling tends to have a bit of a stereotypical thing going on - fat kid = prop, not quite as fat = hooker, bean poles = second rows, quick but not as quick as backs = flanker, biggest and strongest guy = 8 and so on..and those players do THOSE jobs..

Maybe if Banahan had been born in NZ (for instance) where rugby seems to be very focussed on a skill set level (I'm sure they also fit players to positions in school but obviously someone noticed with Lomu that he had the build of an 8 but the skills of a back) then he may have had more potential to develop his skills.

As far as I know, Banahan was still playing second row when he played for Jersey 1st XV, just attacked wiki and learned he was brought into Bath as a lock, so he has most probably been playing the "You're a second row, you hit the rucks, focus on the lineouts, try not to get the ball too often and stay out the way" rugby for many many years, whereas as I said, had someone recognised his skill set and ability from an early age; like with Lomu, you never know what he could have achieved at this stage in his career.

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stroudos July 20, 2014 10:32 am

My point was that - in my opinion - he doesn't have the natural skill set of a wing, or any back position for that matter. The reason he got moved out of the second row was that his pace seemed wasted there. But look at someone like Tom Croft (or indeed Lawes) - just because you play in the pack doesn't preclude you from ever getting involved in the running stuff when the chance is on.

As this you can see from this Lomu clip, there's more to wing play than just running fast and for the best players in those positions, those skills come naturally.

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DrG July 20, 2014 3:32 pm

I think there is a chicken and egg thing going on here Stroudos. I agree that Banahan doesn't seem to possess the natural back skill that Lomu has and perhaps never would have done. What I am suggesting though; much like 10stone10 often does, is that given the right environment and coaching style Banahan; and any other potential candidate, may very well have developed better a better skillset.

At a basic level Lomu and Banahan both possess two things that cannot be taught*:
1. Height and Weight
2. Speed

*these can of course be developed through education (not quite height...)

Then comes a rugby brain and then comes the difference between the two that is clearly evident.

Chicken and egg thing, you're saying Banahan was born a 2nd row and Lomu was born a wing. I'm saying that theoretically they were both born rugby players and coaching styles moulded them to what they are today.

For the record I'm not saying Lomu and Banahan are the same or ever would/could be. What I am trying (perhaps unsuccessfully) to say is that, if you stick solely on the so often used in UK style of training - forwards are forwards, backs are backs, then a rugby ball thrown around amongst friends is far more 'back orientated' (where can the second row put his 'only a forward' skills to use in a friendly egg throw about?). If however, Lomu grew up in an environment which apparently applies a more rounded training scheme, where a forward has as silky hands as the most gentlest refined backs, then an egg throw about would surely yield far more rounded players - hence my argument that Banahan was perhaps forced into a position more than he needed to be.

I do agree with what you said about the likes of Lawes etc, Banahan is sort of in Limbo..

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DrG July 20, 2014 3:34 pm

Sorry Stroudos, I was a bit presumptuous with my comment: "you're saying Banahan was born a 2nd row and Lomu was born a wing..."

Apologies if that is not quite what you're saying, but it appears your stance at the moment is that Banahan as is a true 2nd row..

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10stonenumber10 July 20, 2014 6:51 pm

hate to throw something in... but it is a half back's duty to stir things.

Banahan vs Lomu isn't a great comparison. Banahan spent his entire 'player development' without ever needing to pass the ball, and only running at the nearest shirt. Probably ran over a LOT of people when he first hit the scene, but he has the turning circle of a bus, poor hands and worse positional play. Lomu was playing for NZ 7s. Banahan was boshed by Shane Williams.

Power and presence only take you so far. Almost a case of Old Dogs, New Tricks. Andy Farrell, Lesley Vainikolo, Ayoola Erinle, even Luther Burrell to an extent... being 6ft+ and 17st+ is easily manageable at International level. Even 7 years ago it was.

Remember that 135kg schoolboy prop try from NZ that was posted a while ago? How fast do you think he would be if he lost the excess?

Every player is unique. It is as much rugby knowledge as physical limitations, i've said it before about rigid mechanics and natural athletes. Lomu had very good footwork because of his shape, his weight worked with him rather than having to 'carry' it. Most players have a rigid running style, easy to read, and damaging to the change of pace. Then watch William Ryder's highlights for Fiji, nothing like the biomechanics textbook, yet the mobility of a house fly.

Either you got it or you don't. Lomu had it. Banananahananaman doesn't. Good club player, not enough for country.

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DrG July 20, 2014 11:19 pm

10stone10, you've hit the nail on the head with regards to my point, Banahan was trained to be a forward, Lomu was trained to play rugby in an extremely adaptive way. I don't recall how aggressive Lomu was, but I dare say he could have easily been thrown in to any pack as an 8. If he lasted as long as the likes of BOD, you could see him moving into the centres if his pace dropped AND at an international level!!!

Banahan on the other hand is sort of one of those players (I've been here) that appears to be traditionally a forward but due to number shortage and being 'a bit quicker than the others' gets chucked into the backs. I have to give Banahan and myself a little more credit here though - I've got quite good footwork and Banahan isn't quite as 'basic' as the above.

The reason for comparison is more of a height and weight similarity and the fact they're both on the wing more than any other reason. Although I quite like the fact Banahan has come from the forwards as it adds another angle to the discussion..

... Just so we're clear though, Lomu is an All Star XV player and Banahan isn't. Any comparison I've made between them is much like yourself and I discussing how we both fit into the 10 position - (You'd find a heck of a lot more reasons why you do than why I do!).. Comparisons =/= similarities...

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stroudos July 21, 2014 2:44 pm

DrG, sort of. I am indeed saying I think Banaha-hanahan had the natural skill set of a forward.

It's all conjecture, but the impression I get is even if Banahan had had his rugby education in New Zealand or Fiji, he would still have been a better lock than wing.

As 10stone says below (or above, i'm never sure exactly where new posts will appear...):
"Either you got it or you don't. Lomu had it."

BTW 10stone, I don't think Ryder's the best example but you're in the right geographical area. Look no further than the man in my avatar - Rupeni Caucaunibuca. Built like a prop, yet I would argue he's the most elusive wing I've ever seen.

There you are DrG - better comparison for you: Caucau v Matthieu The Bastard. Both look like the kitman made a mistake with the amount of 1s and 3s on their shirts. In my opinion, one of them has "it" for playing as a back, the other is a (pretty effective) battering ram.

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10stonenumber10 July 21, 2014 3:12 pm

Caucau is another scary proposition. I agree with you that overall he is a better comparison, he moves like an 18 stone Ryder. I only picked Ryder because of his bunny hopping running style, a bit like Quade Cooper. He spends so much time in their strides with both feet off the ground, you can't read where it is going to be put down next.

It's all a madness. Everyone's got strengths, weaknesses, all I know is that they do it for a living, and we don't, so they can't be all that bad at egg chucking... Give it 20 more years and we'll be sat drunk in pubs after the 2034 8 Nations comparing how the new crop dwarf Lomu, and how archaic it is that a man of only 19 stone could be so dominant back then, standing no chance 'today'.

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DrG July 21, 2014 8:20 pm

I think this is the part where it's difficult to continue the Banahan Lomu comparison. My position regarding Banahan growing up in the SH would only ever have as much weight as the laptop it's being typed on as he did not and unfortunately for him he was nabbed by the 'backs' and didn't develop into what could potentially be a Lawes or a big back row.

Do agree with 10stone10... Countries will probably start a breeding scheme in order to yield the best 'crop' - Who knows what sort of 'supplements' might be added into their diets etc etc...

...well either that or the 2034 8 Nations and RWC (not sure on the year..) will be played over computer games because everyone will find it just too brutal to play for real...

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CEO Front Row Union July 29, 2014 12:48 pm

Legend goes is that because he would never pass the ball to anyone else he was moved to the wing where he was the end of the line and just had to run

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Eddie-g July 16, 2014 8:20 pm

Was it really 20 years ago that Lomu burst on the scene? Gosh I feel old.

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JP10 July 17, 2014 5:21 am

Julian Savea ? I really think Israel Folau plays more like Jonah Lomu than him

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Joel July 17, 2014 8:09 am

I guess that's why they're going to try and get Sam Burgess into the england team...
196 cm, 116 kg - so a tiny bit lighter. Soft hands, and silky skills. I think they're just going to try and do the same.

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Swing July 17, 2014 8:35 am

I think trying to compare players similar in size to Lomu is a waste of time. It's like comparing cars, it's what under the hood that counts. Lomu possessed incredible explosive power shackled with the fact he was the first of the, and I say this respectfully, 'freaks' meant at times he was undefendable. 1 on 1 he'd beat his man, 1 on 2+ he created space.
Incidentally I was due to play against him for Wales U18 against NZ U18 (think they were called NZ News for some reason?) he, thankfully didn't play but was replaced by another 6' 4"+, 18+ stone giant. I can't find the program but I think his name was something like 'Kola Elniak'... absolutely destroyed us :( Anyone know of him or what happened to him?

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stroudos July 17, 2014 10:18 am

That's a great almost-claim to fame. And I'm not being sarcastic at all, just to be sure. I do feel for these guys that are understudies to someone really awesome, when it sounds like in this case had the Elniak bloke played for any other team he could have been amazing, right?

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Swing July 17, 2014 11:16 am

He'd have got in most of the teams I've played in and that includes ousting some quality players but from my experience in NZ their 'big' guys have to work twice as hard on their conditioning. Naturally BIG men. I reckon quite a few potential big names don't make it through lack of motivation

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stroudos July 17, 2014 10:37 am

Did you know who Lomu was at the time? I mean it was obviously a year or two before his international debut, but had you heard about him through the age group set-up?

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Swing July 17, 2014 11:12 am

We'd heard bits about him. The set up back then, 93 I think, was about as unprofessional as you could get (definitely in Wales) but we were told a bit about their team, especially some 'giant winger' who'd be wreaking havoc in their home internationals. Our back line was tiny so when we found out he wasn't playing I think we all let out a sigh of relief. It was academic though, they were to a man far bigger and stronger than any other u18 team we played against. Don't get me wrong I'm far from a small man and (was) pretty damn fit but their strength and conditioning was an eye opener.

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stroudos July 20, 2014 9:16 pm

Love it. Brilliant to hear this kind of first-hand account.

As I recall, in those pre-internet days (well pre-people really using the internet for everything), and with international matches being less frequent, there was a real mystique anyway about a team travelling from the other side of the world. Easy to take it for granted now.

I imagine you and your buddies may have been wondering whether to believe the hype or not - then these monsters turn up with their superior strength and stamina! And that's without this mythical giant winger...

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DrG July 17, 2014 4:54 pm

I see where you're coming from, but there is no point comparing 'great' Lomu with 'great' Shane Williams/Jason Robinson, or any other winger that is well under 6ft...

So today's wingers that are plus sizes are those listed above (probably missed a lot).. so I was trying to state that although there are plenty great wingers today, there are only a handful that could be in any way comparable based on size and weight...and even they're 'not comparable' with the likes of Lomu.

Just thought of another much closer comparison and that would be Alesana Tuilagi..

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Swing July 17, 2014 5:59 pm

Pretty sure I wasn't comparing Lomu to the likes of Shane but to those of similar size to him. Perhaps I didn't word it correctly.

TBH I think there could be a fair few wingers Lomu's size but rugby has progressed so dramatically in the past 20 years that their limitations would be exposed. Lomu had the turning circle of a tank defensively and was often exposed against jinking runners or the ball being put behind him.

Tuilagi? Yes. Tuigimala? Under 6' but pound for pound phenomenal

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DrG July 17, 2014 8:05 pm

Apologies for the misunderstanding, you wrote:
"I think trying to compare players similar in size to Lomu is a waste of time. It's like comparing cars, it's what under the hood that counts."

and I assumed it was in a sort of reply to me and a couple others above who mentioned Savea, Cuthbert, North, Banahan etc.. hence why I commented with a less than clear reply. What I was getting at is that the only way to truly understand how phenomenal Lomu was, is to look at the players of today of similar size (rather than just brilliant wingers in general as the majority are much much smaller - Williams etc..) and how they use that size and frankly I don't see anywhere near the power.

Of course as you mentioned, Lomu was ahead of the time by miles, he was a professional player of beyond todays size/skill/power, playing in the early days of professional rugby which was still predominantly 'average' sized blokes.

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Guest July 19, 2014 4:12 pm

Possibly Koula Tukino? Played for the Chiefs and made NZ A in 2000. Moved overseas and played under various names

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krip July 17, 2014 8:40 am

Don`t want to take it from Jonah - he is truly the greatest. But at the same time when you look at the defense of the aussie players is like you are watching the Benny Hill show.

Defense tactics and technique evolved tremendously over the years of the professional era and I don`t really think such plays are now possible. Players like Folau, Savea etc. have a much more complex game than Lomu. It`s harder to get trough against perfect defenders...

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matt July 17, 2014 2:28 pm

Even in the modern game players tend to crumble and forget their defensive technique when faced with something as formidable as him. You see it all the time, big guy carries straight, little guy goes hi and gets boshed.

I think it's a case of their reputation breaking concentration. And in an era where the size difference between an athlete like Lomu's and the average was so big it made a big difference.

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matt July 17, 2014 2:30 pm

I don't think it has too much to do with defense tactics or technique, but nowadays when these big carriers knock down a little back they are 5 stone heavier than they used to be and that saps momentum

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10stonenumber10 July 18, 2014 11:03 am

One on one, a smaller modern defender will make the tackle but maybe go back a yard or two. 19 years ago, they would have been the sacrificial lamb to take the hit, get boshed and upset the attackers balance, while the others piled in to drag him down. Hit and drag, rather than Hit and wrestle to the floor like nowadays. Call it the league influence, more players are going chest to chest ball and all rather than go low, so if they don;t make the first up hit, at least the ball carrying hand(s) aren;t free

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larry July 21, 2014 4:45 pm

Agree with you about the league influence. Hit and drag meant, overall, less concussions. Hit and wrestle: that's a lot of head to head contact.
The only area of the pitch where going back a yard or two makes a difference is on the goal line.

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DrG July 21, 2014 8:22 pm

I can find a loophole though.. these days with kickers that can nail place kicks and/or drop kicks from the halfway line and further, seems like every yard really counts now...

But I agree with your point...

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10stonenumber10 July 17, 2014 9:54 am

Apparently at his peak Jonah had a 28" waist.

At a heavyweight 138lbs, and a sky scraping 5'8" (and 3/4)... I have a 28" waist.

That is a frightening amount of muscle mass for someone 6'5'' and 120kg to shoehorn onto a frame.

Bodybuilders look for the V shape.... screw that, Lomu was built like a capital X. Even with all the weight he still looked athletic, unlike a lot of musclebound modern players.

Anybody know where I can get Tongan Taro in the UK?

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DrG July 17, 2014 8:08 pm

28inch waist??? Are you kidding me?

Finding trousers for that man must be a bloody nightmare, I'm fairly meaty, not particularly chubby and I have a 36" waist! My legs are by no means Lomu-esque and I find some trousers are a bit 'gripping' around the thighs, so to get a fairly titchy waist with gargantuan sized legs must have been an expensive custom job...

..then again, "My trousers are good enough for Jonah Lomu" is one hell of an advertisement, so he probably got a fair few freebies..

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10stonenumber10 July 17, 2014 8:25 pm

If the british media are to be believed... yes.

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larry July 21, 2014 4:48 pm

I doubt he had or has a 28" waist. Maybe a 32 or 33 inch waist. I'd believe that. For comparison, an old American football player, Jim Brown, when he was playing in the 50's and 60's for the Cleveland Browns, had a 32 inch waist at 6'2". He was considered to be about the fittest player in professional American football at the time. Weight lifting was just starting as a training regime then.

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DrG July 21, 2014 8:24 pm

It's said it online when I searched - although we can't always trust that... I don't know if any of his body building stats are available somewhere, maybe they'd give an insight???

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10stonenumber10 July 21, 2014 10:43 pm

They probably measured his narrowest point as opposed to his Trouser Waist size, if you don't have a belly your waist will be slimmer than your hips.

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DrG July 22, 2014 9:02 am

Yeh maybe that's true. Thats where my 36(ish) comes in. If I measure at my narrowest point it's a fair few inches less.

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Canadian-N8 July 17, 2014 6:17 pm

It's so sad James O'Connor wasn't playing back then. He would've smashed Lomu to hell. 'nuff said

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Canadian content July 17, 2014 10:28 pm

Jonah would have dominated even today. Look at the crusaders wing. And he has nowhere near Jonah's pace and guile.

Thanks for the awesome vid!

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larry July 21, 2014 4:31 pm

My negative memory of Johan Lomu is that game against France in the RWC of 1999. He was marked by a 12 stone 5'8" wing (was it La Salle?), but his weakness was exploited: kicks behind him that he had a bad time trying to cover.

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10stonenumber10 July 21, 2014 4:52 pm

He still turned and covered the ground better than most big blokes.

Every hero has a weakness. I mean, come on, Chuck Norris was ginger... why do you think he fought Bruce Lee in the shade of the Colosseum? He would have been burnt to a crisp otherwise.

Pick your battles.

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stroudos July 21, 2014 8:54 pm

Would have been burnt? Everyone knows it's the sun that has to use Chuck Norris cream, not the other way round.

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DrG July 22, 2014 12:51 pm

....Well ok we'll ignore the sun thing, but everyone knows gingers are daywalkers...

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