18 Jan 2016

Lomu gave just about everything away, says widow

5:51 pm on 18 January 2016

Jonah Lomu's widow has confirmed to Checkpoint with John Campbell that the former All Black died with very little money to leave to his young family.

Watch the full Checkpoint with John Campbell interview here:

Nadene Lomu has also revealed she went through testing just weeks before her husband died, to see if she could donate one of her kidneys to him, but the couple proved incompatible.

Lomu died suddenly last November, aged 40, after suffering for many years from a chronic and serious kidney disorder.

A fundraising page set up in the wake of his death prompted speculation about the finances of Lomu and his wife Nadene.

The page was taken down within a day at Mrs Lomu's request.

The New Zealand Players' Association subsequently set up the Jonah Lomu Legacy Trust to provide for the couple's two sons.

Speaking for the first time since her husband's death, Nadene Lomu said despite his rugby stardom, her husband never held on to his earnings for long.

"I wouldn't say broke ... but with Jonah being such a generous man, he gave just about everything away. I knew that that's how he was - he had given everything away when we decided we were going to start and re-build everything."

She and the two boys were still living in the family's rented house in Auckland, Mrs Lomu said.

Nadene and Jonah Lomu

Nadene and Jonah Lomu Photo: RNZ

Shortly after Lomu's death, the New Zealand Herald reported that he had bought a property from his father-in-law, Mervyn Quirk, at much more than market price, in the early days of the couple's relationship.

Suggestions that her father had taken advantage of Lomu were wrong, Mrs Lomu said.

"I know that's the perception that's out there but ... I don't believe for one minute that that's what the case was. My mother and my father have been there from day one for Jonah and myself," she said.

"I know that my father did not have the intent of taking advantage of my husband."

The cost of Lomu's medical treatment during his publicity tour of the UK during last year's Rugby World Cup also took a toll on the family's finances.

Each day had to be carefully planned around Lomu's treatment, Mrs Lomu said.

"He had dialysis four times a week, six hours at a time... Converting it, it went from $NZ1000 to $NZ1500 per treatment."

Trying to help her "generous" husband before his death, Mrs Lomu went through testing to see if she was a compatible kidney donor.

Lomu had previously received a donated kidney, from radio host Grant Kereama in 2004.

Mrs Lomu did the initial preparation for donation in secret, she said.

"I got the forms ready and we needed the blood test papers so I went and got those done, and then I said, 'Jonah, I want to help you.'"

Lomu was "really excited" when she revealed she wanted to help him, Mrs Lomu said.

The couple had blood tests done just before they flew to the UK.

"We always said we don't want to get too excited in case compatibility wasn't any option. Results came back and it said that we weren't compatible," Mrs Lomu said.

The news was tough but the couple always held out hope they would find another solution, she said.

Nadene Lomu's full interview is on Checkpoint with John Campbell from 5pm.

@CheckpointRNZ