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Former players, coaches and friends paid tribute to rugby legend Jonah Lomu last night on TV One's This Is Your Life.

The 31-year-old's freakish on-field exploits and very public battle against a devastating kidney condition earned him the ultimate television accolade.

Studio guests included Wellington broadcaster Grant Kereama, who donated his kidney for Lomu's transplant, former All Black coaches John Hart and Laurie Mains and former All Blacks Eric Rush, Frank Bunce and Glen Osborne.

Lomu embraced Kereama in an emotional public reunion, telling him he could never repay him for what he had done.

Kereama has not spoken publicly before about donating a kidney to Lomu in July 2004, but fronted for the programme.

Lomu, who suffered kidney disease for some years before the transplant, told Kereama he had given him a second chance at life.

"You have been my guardian angel, you have given me an opportunity to live a full life and a complete life. I could never repay you for what you have done, or (Kereama's wife) Polly or your kids.

"To me it is the utmost...thing that I could ever think that anybody could give."

Kereama said hearing those words was "pretty heavy, pretty huge".

Kereama recalled the phone call between the pair when the transplant offer was first made.

"I remember when I did phone you and really we were talking about cars I think. I said what is your blood type and you said 'O' and I said 'Mine is O too'."

The offer was then discussed and progressed on to compatibility tests and the eventual transplant."

Kereama also spoke of his nervousness after former All Black coach John Hart asked him to present Lomu his No 11 jersey in his first comeback match just under a year later.

"This was quite an honour and so I spent that night awake for hours, thinking what I was going to say, inspirational words and got down to the room that next day, standing there with his jersey, the pressure on to say the right thing.

"Jonah came to the door and I just burst into tears, could not say a word, absolutely no words. That's all I could do bro, stand there and give you that jersey and hug you bro."

Former Kiwis international Olsen Filipaina revealed that he also suffered from the kidney nephritis disease and had been supported by Lomu during his struggles with it.

- NZPA