Legendary All Blacks wing Jonah Lomu passed away suddenly in Auckland on Wednesday.
Former All Blacks team doctor John Mayhew said Lomu's death was unexpected.
'On behalf of the Lomu family, I can confirm that Jonah Lomu died this morning, most probably at about 8 or 9,' Mayhew said. 'The family are obviously devastated, as are friends and acquaintances. The family have requested privacy at this stage, they are obviously going through a terrible time.
'It was totally unexpected. Jonah and his family arrived back from the United Kingdom last night and he suddenly died this morning.'
Mayhew told the New Zealand Herald that Lomu had gone into cardiac arrest, with people who suffer from chronic kidney disease at risk of experiencing heart issues.
'The final mechanism was something that caused the heart to go into cardiac arrest, most probably a cardiac or pulmonary event,' he said. 'Cardiac arrest is the final pathway of the heart shutting down. That's all there is really.'
New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew paid tribute to Lomu, who scored 37 tries in 63 Tests for New Zealand.
'We’re all shocked and deeply saddened at the sudden death of Jonah Lomu,' said Tew. 'Jonah was a legend of our game and loved by his many fans both here and around the world. We’re lost for words and our heartfelt sympathies go out to Jonah’s family.'
Lomu first retired from the game in 2002 after being diagnosed with a rare kidney disease, nephrotic syndrome. He has been on dialysis treatment for the past 10 years.
Lomu is survived by his wife Nadene and their young sons Brayley and Dhyreille.
Photo: Simon Bruty/Getty Images