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New Zealand rugby legend, Jonah Lomu, dies aged 40

All Blacks great, Jonah Lomu, has died in Auckland, aged 40. The New Zealander had suffered from a rare kidney disease since 1995.

The New Zealand Rugby Union confirmed on Wednesday that Lomu died earlier that day, shortly after arriving back from the UK with his family.

"Jonah was a legend of our game and loved by his many fans both here and around the world," said New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew.

"We're lost for words and our heartfelt sympathies go out to Jonah's family."

At the age of 19, the blockbusting winger made his test debut against France, before going on to win 63 caps and score 43 tries for the All Blacks.

Lomu was forced to retire from international rugby in 2002, however, due to Nephrotic syndrome - a rare kidney disease.

The rugby legend underwent a kidney transplant in 2004 and tried, without success, to resume his career in France and Wales.

Seven years after his transplant, Lomus' body rejected his donor kidney, but he remained hopeful of undergoing a second operation.

ksb/bw (Reuters, AP, dpa)