Jonah Lomu is New Zealand rugby’s most celebrated star - earning ?millions from his career as an All Black until his career was cruelly interrupted by a kidney disease. At his peak his vital statistics were awesome. Height: 6’ 5". Weight: 19 stone. Chest: 46" Hips: 49". Boots: Size 13. 0-100 metres: 10.8 seconds.

He likes the last figure, not just because he is famed for his annihilating runs through opposition rugby teams, but because Jonah is a speed freak. Given the choice of ten minutes talking rugby or six hours talking cars, he’d rather go for the latter.

In his collection of motors are monster Aussie Holden V8 road racers and BLO 454, the registration of New Zealand’s fastest street legal dragster, an 850bhp ’67 Chevy Camaro. It covers the 0-100mph sprint in 4.7 seconds. But his two favourites are a couple of banzai monsters - a 600bhp Nissan Skyline GT-R and a Nissan Patrol packed with one of the loudest sound systems in the world.

If Lomu had not turned out so big, he might have become a racing driver and not a rugby player. Encouraged by his father, who was a local mechanic, every weekend Jonah would sit glued to the racing on television. His need for speed came faster even than his need for rugby. His father taught him to drive early, aged 13.

"I was really young when I learned to drive. Instantly, I had a few dilemmas. One being that I got caught driving an XJS with no driver’s licence," he reveals. "When I first started driving legally at 17, I hadn’t started playing rugby. It was my first year at boarding year and it wasn’t until the next year that I discovered the game."

The rest is history. Even knocked off the rugby radar by his temporary retirement (he plans to restart his career this year), Lomu is the most famous rugby player in the world, but smouldering underneath is a frustrated racer.

Mike Husleag
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