Sudden stardom and love of flash cars: Jonah Lomu's financial troubles likely caused by extravagances of youth
All Black great Jonah Lomu's financial problems were likely the result of the extravagances of youth and health problems turning off the earnings taps, says a figure familiar with rugby player finances.
The source, who did not wish to be named given the sensitivity surrounding the rugby star's death, said today's professional rugby players were given far better advice than those who came of age, as Lomu did, when the game turned professional in 1995.
"Nowadays, there's a heck of a lot of support for players," he said. "They all have professional development agents now, and a lot of sessions of financial planning are run by New Zealand Rugby. But that's all relatively new, maybe the last 10 years. Going back to 1995, there's nothing there."
Jonah Lomu's Hummer.
The source said Lomu's earnings while he was playing would have been "at the top end" of the then rugby pay scale.
The news that Lomu died broke came as leading figures in rugby announced they had set up a trust to help Lomu's boys Dhyreille, 6, and Brayley, 5.
The trust - which excludes the boys' mother, Nadene, as a beneficiary or from having control of any of the funds - has been set up by the NZ Rugby Players Association.
The realisation shortly after Lomu's death that his family's finances were in such a dire state had come as a "shock". The source said the combination of youth and a sudden stardom almost inevitably saw new All Blacks engage in wasteful spending.
"Once they become an All Black, and their salary doubles or triples, you kind of always know they're going to have a bit of a splurge on something. I've resigned myself that they'll always get at least one item - usually a flash car," he said.
Early in his career, Lomu was known for his extravagant car collection. His best-known vehicle was a Nissan Patrol with a $100,000 sound system. At various times, his collection included a HSV, an R34 Nissan GT-R, a Hummer, Lamborghini and a 1967 Camaro. It is understood most, if not all, of these cars were purchased on finance deals.
The source, who advises senior rugby players, said he recommended they focus on "sensible" decisions after the first splurge.
Jonah Lomu's Chevrolet Camaro.
"The first priority is a mortgage-free home, then everything else above that is bonus territory," he said.
When Lomu died last month he was living in a rental property. The Epsom house had a rateable valuation of $2.2 million.
The renal illness which cut short Lomu's career and forced him to retire from playing for the All Blacks aged only 27, would have bit into his earnings and his ability to protect them, the source said.
Jonah Lomu's cousin Sosaia Kailahi with Lomu's Nissan Pathfinder, including a $100,000, three and a half tonne stereo.
"The longer you can extend your career the more you make," he said.
"While in a perfect world young people take out income protection insurance, they don't tend to take it out aged 18 or 19 as they think they're bulletproof. He got diagnosed [with kidney problems] early, and that was always going to be an exclusion for him."
The source said he was a "massive fan" of Lomu and his observations weren't intended as criticism of the giant winger.
"Sometimes it is just sheer bad luck. It can happen to lawyers, judges, you can see intelligent people stung by bad investments. What we try to do is prevent young players getting a lot of money and blowing it."
How you can help
DONATE: Those wanting to donate to the trust set up for Jonah Lomu's sons can do so through the official jonahlomulegacy.com website or through thelomulegacy.com supporting website, powered by NZME's GrabOne. NZME is the parent company of the NZ Herald and NewstalkZB. Donations can also be made through any branch of the ASB Bank or by online banking to the Jonah Lomu Legacy Trust, account number 12-3647-0022925-00.