UPDATE 1-Rugby-Lomu's former agent Kingsley Jones dies

16 Sep 2020 / 13:24 H.

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    WELLINGTON, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Tributes flowed for Phil Kingsley Jones who died on Tuesday, praising the agent's role in helping All Blacks legend Jonah Lomu to become rugby union's first global personality.

    His health had deteriorated following a fall several months ago, his son Kingsley Jones, the current Canada men's coach and a former Wales loose forward said. He was 72.

    The Wales-born Kingsley Jones emigrated to New Zealand in 1983 and became closely associated with the Counties Manukau rugby union in South Auckland, where he met Lomu before the powerful winger made the All Blacks in 1994.

    The then 19-year-old Lomu, however, had a terrible first series against France and was the major scapegoat for the 2-0 loss, prompting him to consider a move to rugby league and asking Kingsley Jones to manage his career.

    Kingsley Jones, however, talked him out of the code switch and made him promise, with the 1995 Rugby World Cup on the horizon, that he give rugby union another chance.

    He later said that all he asked for in return was Lomu's next All Blacks jersey.

    Lomu's breakthrough performances at the tournament were seen as a major catalyst in the game turning professional later that year and Kingsley Jones managed his career until 2004.

    "What he did for Jonah Lomu was ground-breaking," former Counties captain Errol Brain said in a statement released by the provincial union.

    "He was the pioneer who turned Jonah into rugby's first global superstar all while keeping him grounded and connected to what was important, which was our region.

    "Such was the impact that many of the young ones coming through today still look up to him and are aware of Jonah's legacy."

    Lomu died in 2015, shortly after returning from the World Cup in England, from complications related to a long-standing kidney disease. (Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

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