Sky Sports New Zealand has been breaking down the best All Black players of all time, coming up with an all-time great fifteen. In this clip, Richie McCaw describes his first encounter with Jonah Lomu.
A back three was picked after a fan vote and as you’ll see in the video below, it’s a formidable trio with Lomu predictably taking the left wing spot, the great Christian Cullen at fullback and then Bryan Williams as right wing.
The first part of the video charts Lomu’s rise to prominence, with those close to him recounting their experiences with identifying his talent and watching him turn into the legend he soon became.
Going from a loose forward to a wing was what made all the difference and it’s fascinating to actually hear how that came about.
Despite his struggles with a kidney condition, that at the height of his career meant spending hours on dialysis, he still managed to perform and achieve what he did.
“We never saw him at his peak, we never saw that,” says former coach John Hart.
“He was at sixty, seventy, eighty percent of his ability when he had his illness. If he had ever able to go to 100%, what would we have seen?”
While this video is mainly about Lomu and the other two greats listed in the best back three, there’s a nice moment around the two minute mark that features another legend talking about his experience with the giant winger.
McCaw, arguably one of the best rugby players to ever play the game and certainly up there with the greatest All Blacks, says that from the sidelines he was surprised at how nobody could stop Lomu.
Until, that is, he had his chance.
“You look at guys that couldn’t tackle him and I was like ‘Surely you must be able to.. if you just get in low’,” McCaw mused.
“I remember the first day I played against him. I tried tackling him twice and I got nowhere near him.
“My respect for everyone that had been shunted off went up a lot I tell ya. To have a guy like that alongside you, you’re like ‘Man, this is easy’.”
Of course, it’s not the first time we’ve seen McCaw fended by another powerful All Black.
In 2007 opposing fans loved seeing the legendary flanker put on his backside (on his head?) by the late Sione Lauaki in a Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Chiefs.