Their international careers only overlapped for two years, but Jonah Lomu had a profound effect on Doug Howlett.
Jonah Lomu sadly passed away today following a long battle with a kidney disorder at only 40 years of age and the world has paid tribute.
Speaking with MunsterRugby.ie, Howlett told of Lomu being a ‘shining light’ for Polynesian players.
He was the guy in the All Blacks that always looked out for new members. He was the first true global rugby superstar, but the fact is, within the squad environment he was just one of the lads.
If anybody could lose their head you would almost allow him to because of his stature in the game but he never did that, it was always team first and these are the things you remember and that you pass on.
Spending time with a guy like that, they teach you how to be an All Black. I came in to that environment, where he had huge humility and at the same time was a wonderful player and a respected team-mate.
As a young Polynesian boy he was a shining light to all Polynesian players in New Zealand and on the islands – “Hey I can do it too!” – and you see a string of the players now saying it openly that it was him that turned them to rugby, not only in New Zealand, but globally.
Howlett also expressed his delight at being able to pass on all that he learned from the All Black legend.
The moments I cherish are being welcomed into an environment as a young guy, and to play alongside, to train with, a group that included Jonah, Tana Umaga, Jeff Wilson and Christian Cullen, all giants of the game at the time but everything was shared and they wanted to make you a better player.
Through Jonah these memories and these learnings will live on through me and I pass them on through my Munster time and to players coming through. No doubt his memory is going to live on. He lives through his teachings to me and he will live on through my teachings to others, to my son, and to other Munster players. That is something he would be extremely proud of.
When you look at the last few months with Jonah and Jerry Collins, they are the two guys on your team that are indestructible, that will run through a brick wall and not think anything of it. Losing both has been hard and it makes you think about your own position and life in general.
It’s a sad, sad day, however, Jonah Lomu will live on with us and I will cherish the memories and the time I got to spend with him.