The match-winning player of the 1995 Rugby World Cup final says Jonah Lomu was an uncommonly thoughtful and positive person who gave him a new way of seeing the world.
Joel Stransky first played against Lomu moments after Nelson Mandela shook hands with the players before the 1995 Rugby World Cup final in Johannesburg.
But Stransky said only in the last six to eight months did he truly get to know Lomu, and he was privileged and honoured to have done so.
Stransky, who kicked the cup-winning drop goal in 1995, said Lomu never complained about the kidney disease that would later take his life.
"He was very humble, very down-to-earth, well-grounded. And he had, from my time with him, quite a spiritual, deep sense of life. Maybe that comes from partly his background, and partly the fact he had to endure hardship, to fight this disease constantly for 20 years. He had a real positive outlook and a nice way of seeing things."
Stransky said Lomu was a "man mountain" and mould-breaking player who redefined the game.
"To be that big and that strong and that fast, with such a great skill set, is just a combination the game had never seen and probably will never see."
The former Springbok and Natal first-five met Lomu again during filming of the documentary Back to South Africa, in which Lomu reconnected with some of his old on-field rivals, including Springboks James Small and the ailing Joost van der Westhuizen.
"We sat on the side of the field and walked around a little bit. He spoke a lot, in our discussions, about Mandela and the time for South Africa, the deeper and more meaningful elements of 1995, as opposed to just the rugby itself.
"He had a whole different way of looking at it, a much more life-oriented view, a much more experienced view than just the view of a sportsman," Stransky said.
"The time I spent with him, I came away having thoroughly enjoyed the few hours, and also with a slightly different view of life."
Asked about his health, Lomu told Stransky it was something he lived with, and fought, and something that inspired him to do as much as possible with his life.
"Jonah was so good that you couldn't give him a one-on-one...he was going to beat any defence in the world. We needed to get numbers around him, so we tried to push him a little bit more into the midfield where we could gang-tackle him."
Although the 1995 World Cup Final is now embedded in both countries' folklore, and for many marks the high point of South Africa's post-apartheid reconciliation, Stransky confessed the players on the day didn't quite realise they were part of something bigger.
"We were just all rugger players who wanted to make a World Cup final, play in a World Cup final, and win a World Cup final. It's a little naive...we had, I suppose, a little understanding of what was going on but certainly not a deep understanding, and certainly not a sense of how important it could or would become in the history of the country."
Incredibly, Lomu would have been "twenty per cent better" in 1995 if it weren't for the disease, Stransky said.
"Imagine...I get petrified just thinking of him being even better."