A Northamptonshire dad said he will never forget a public tribute made to his daughter by Jonah Lomu, who passed away overnight.
All Blacks legend Lomu was the main attraction at a fundraising and awareness evening in September at The Deco Theatre, Northampton.
The beneficiary was Niamh’s Next Step, set up in memory of Niamh Curry who died of a rare childhood cancer aged five.
Her dad, Chris Curry, said Lomu was magnificent that night and addressed him personally from the stage about Niamh.
Mr Curry said: “I looked down from the stage and was talking to me about losing Niamh and about his boys being everything to him.
“Talking about his his illness, he said he wanted everything bad to happen to him and not his sons, which was exactly how I felt about Niamh.
“It was humbling and incredible for my rugby idol to be talking to me about my little girl.
“I feel very lucky. I’ll never forget it.”
Mr Curry drove Lomu, who is the joint-top try scorer in Rugby World Cup history, to Bournemouth where the giant ex-winger was staying and spent several hours with him.
He said: “Talking to him, if you didn’t already know what he’d achieved, you’d never have guessed.
“People were just staring at him but he was so down to earth.
“He definitely took the charity to heart.”
Lomu, aged 40, had suffered from health problems since retiring in 2002 due to a rare kidney disease, nephrotic syndrome.
Two years later, he had a kidney transplant and had been on dialysis treatment for the past 10 years.
Details of the exact cause of his death are not yet known.
Lomu freely leant his support to many causes and his penultimate tweet was to Northamptonshire man Zac Forskitt, who is battling two froms of cancer.
It read: “Awesome strength, Zac. We are praying for you. Be strong my friend. Regards, the Lomu family.”