Phil Kingsley Jones was a larger than life character loved throughout rugby clubs the length and breadth of New Zealand – and in his native Wales - for his speaking engagements which left audiences in stitches.
And the 72-year-old – who was best known for managing professional rugby's greatest superstar Jonah Lomu – retained his trademark sense of humour as he battled severe ill-health leading up to his death on Tuesday.
Kingsley Jones died surrounded by loved ones – including his wife, Verina, and two daughters Vikki and Rhianon – about five months after being seriously injured in a fall at his Auckland home during the level 1 Covid-19 lockdown.
In an interview with the Herald on Sunday, Kingsley Jones' eldest daughter, Vikki Kingsley Jones Mowles, told of how he tried his best to make others laugh "right until the end".
He also harnessed a strong fighting spirit where he was determined to prove specialists caring for him wrong; including his reaction to a conversation between a doctor and his daughters when he was in a semi-conscious state shortly after the fall when it was recommended to the two women that he shouldn't be given CPR if he went into cardiac arrest.
"They talked to us about CPR and said, 'We are going to say to you we would probably advise not to give him CPR because of his condition '," Vikki said.
"Me and my sister were coming out crying our eyes out in the car. And the specialist who had just talked to us phoned us and said, 'You know that you have just been to see your dad and he was incoherent. Well he just woke up and he said of course I would f****** want CPR'.
"He could hear everything around him. We couldn't believe it. We got home, he rang us and said, 'F****** trying to kill me, telling everyone I don't want CPR'."
While he was being cared for at Middlemore Hospital, and then later at a private hospital, he would again use his sharp sense of humour to bring some joy to family members who either visited him or received phone calls from him.
"Right until the end he would laugh and joke and try and cheer us up with his jokes. He really did believe that he could beat this."
Prior to his fall, Kingsley Jones had battled poor mobility for some time due to bad hips.
Several years ago it was revealed he required dual hip replacements. But he opted not to go through with the procedures due to a heart condition diagnosed 10 years ago.
"They were scared to give him an operation because if he had a hip replacement he might not last through the operation," Vikki said.
His mobility issues meant he was not able to walk Vikki down the aisle when she got married in February.
In April, Kingsley Jones was at his Auckland home and had a bad fall after trying to remove a pillow which was stuck at the back of a cupboard.
The fall left him with no feeling in his legs.
"He rang me while he was on his back and said, 'I have had a fall and can't feel my legs'," Vikki said.
Verina called an ambulance and he was later taken to Middlemore Hospital.
Due to Covid-19 protocols at the time, Kingsley Jones' daughters were initially not able to visit him in hospital.
By the time Vikki was able to see her ailing dad at his bedside he was "non-coherent" due to pain killers used to help make him as comfortable as possible.
"He was basically in a coma when I got to see him. I was devastated," Vikki said. "They told me that that was the end of life. I grieved and was absolutely devastated."
Later she visited him with messages from his grandchildren and "cried over his bed".
"We thought it was the end."
But Kingsley Jones – who also coached his beloved Counties Manukau province and helped coach Tonga on several overseas tours – defied the initial prognosis.
His daughter said "he kept getting better because he was fighting his best".
"He didn't really come to terms with what happened, he kept saying he would walk again. He tried his best," she added.
He was later transferred to a private hospital, before being allowed to go home and be cared for by loved ones as he battled to live.
Surrounded by loved ones, Phil Kingsley Jones shed a final tear and then took his last breath on Tuesday night.
"He kept saying right until the very end that he did not want to die," Vikki said.
"Me and my sister stayed the week with him, knowing it wasn't good. When he took his last breath a tear fell from his eye, because he didn't want to go."
Two nights before his tragic death, Kingsley Jones was able to watch Counties Manukau in their clash against Tasman on Saturday night.
At the end of the match a Counties Manukau player gave the popular identity a "shout out" on TV, with Vikki saying her father "raised his fist and smiled".
"He was so strong and so determined," Vikki said of her father's health battle since the fall in April.
"It was just horrendous to see him trying so hard to stay alive and be with his family. He didn't want to leave us."
Vikki worked as her father and Lomu's personal assistant while Kingsley Jones managed the rugby sensation.
She recalled their close bond as "a team . . . we were one big family".
"I know there were times when Jonah didn't believe in himself, but Dad would sit with him and reassure him that he was the greatest person in the world and do everything he could."
But ultimately, Vikki said his family – including herself, Rhianon and their brother Kingsley Jones, who played test rugby for Wales and now coaches Canada – would remember their father as someone who loved and supported them all, as well as his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
"He is a legend. He loved his kids," she said.
"Dad was the one who always bought us all together, he also brought Jonah and his family together. He always reminded us to be humble and never forget where we were from.
"He is a man who makes you believe in yourself. He was very encouraging. He had the biggest heart."