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England Attack coach Mike Catt has said that former All Black Jonah Lomu “put me on the map” for the “wrong reasons” whilst paying a fond tribute to the late New Zealand star.
Lomu shot to world wide fame in the 1995 Rugby World Cup and in particular when he ran over the then England full-back Catt during a weak attempt to tackle him before he scored the first of his four tries in the All Blacks’ crushing 45-29 semi-final win in Cape Town.
Lomu’s sudden death at the young age of 40 this week has shocked the international rugby union world and many have recalled his performances at the 1995 World Cup in South Africa.
Catt in particular vividly remembers Lomu’s power and pace whilst literally running over the fullback at that tournament.
“I laughed at myself,” Catt told BBC Radio Five on Wednesday.
“The funny thing was that I was lying on the floor (after that tackle), (New Zealand’s) Robin Brooke came over to me, tapped me on the cheek and said ‘there’s more of that to come’.”
Catt added: “Lomu put me on the map. Everybody knew who Mike Catt was. All for the wrong reasons of course!”
In a separate statement on the englandrugby website, Catt said of Lomu: “His ability to move 18 stone was amazing. He didn’t want to run through people every time, but he did have that ability and his footwork and speed off the mark was second to none, you just couldn’t get near the guy.
“But if he needed to run through four of you he could.”
Catt also highlighted the wider impact Lomu had on international rugby union as a whole at a 1995 World Cup which ended with hosts South Africa beating New Zealand 15-12 in the final.
“I’m massively sad but the legacy he’s left is incredible,” said Catt, now England’s attacking skills coach. “He’s inspired millions of people around the world to watch the sport and start playing. He changed rugby union during the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
“Jonah did a lot for charity, he put an awful lot back into the game and I think every rugby player would say if there’s anyone who deserved a Rugby World Cup medal it’s Jonah.
“It was an amateur game when he played England in 1995 so to put rugby on the map like he did was phenomenal because the following year the game went professional.
“I don’t think he understood the impact he had on the game,” Catt insisted.
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