Rugby’s first global superstar
Alan Dymock, a respected Rugby journalist, posed the following question in his memorable article chronicling Jonah’s exceptional career and life: Has there been a name as celebrated as the All Blacks great since?
“The main reason we haven’t had a star as big as him is because so few people at international level could be so destructive,” Venter explains. “To put it into perspective, at the highest level everyone is good, but for someone at that level to be exceptional, you have to be exceptional.
“You keep coming through the ranks, you become a provincial player, you become an international, but very few can be unstoppable at international level. He was unstoppable.”
In his eulogy, his good friend Eric shared:
“Jonah reached heights on the football field that had never been seen before, and you know it’s hard to imagine anybody reaching those heights ever again. I’m sure somebody’s going to come along one day, and it’s going to be a great sight to see, because the benchmark has been set pretty high.”
“He was an inspiration to a whole generation of kids growing up in this country (New Zealand), and across the world. And not just in rugby either . . . There’s a whole generation of kids still to be inspired by this guy. He was feared the world over, probably more so overseas than here in New Zealand … and the best part of this fella is that he did it all without the slightest hint of arrogance or ego.”