Jonah Lomu rated 'box office' best by top UK scribe

Jonah Lomu. Source: Jonahlomu.com
Jonah Lomu. Source: Jonahlomu.com

Former British and Irish Lions player Stuart Barnes rates late All Blacks wing Jonah Lomu as the greatest entertainer in world rugby history, but his media colleague Stephen Jones prefers Fijian flyer Rupeni Caucaunibuca.

According to the Stuff website, Lomu topped Barnes' top 10 box office draws in an article in The Times with the former England flyhalf saying the All Blacks wing's four-try demolition of England at the 1995 Rugby World Cup as his "Michael Jordan moment''.

Barnes listed Lomu ahead of two former No 10s - England's World Cup winner Jonny Wilkinson and mercurial ex-All Black Carlos Spencer.

Jones, the veteran Sunday Times rugby correspondent, went for Caucaunibuca at No 1, ahead of Lomu and Wales wing Shane Williams.

Lomu, Barnes said, was "the easiest choice of all the top ten No 1s'' in The Times' rugby ratings series. "With the size of a second row and the speed and dexterity of a wing Lomu transformed our perception of what rugby could be in just one afternoon in Cape Town when he scored four World Cup semi-final tries against England'.

"It was the Michael Jordan moment that didn’t quite create the 'global game' but that’s more to do with the sport than the man. The biggest box office draw of them all. RIP.''

Jones said Caucaunibuca - who scored 15 tries in 14 matches for the Blues from 2002 to 2004 - would have been the "all-time great wing'' had he played for the All Blacks.

"He was a wonder runner, and the odd thing was as his weight ascended, it appeared that his elusiveness also became greater. He used to run lines that astonished you, he made gaps out of little cracks in a defence.''

Former Wallabies playmaker Quade Cooper was in sixth place on Barnes' list, and filled 10th spot in the Jones file.

No South African players made it into either top 10 list.

Rugby's 10 greatest box office players (as selected by The Times)

STEPHEN JONES

1 Rupeni Caucaunibuca (Fiji), 2 Jonah Lomu (NZ), 3 Shane Williams (Wales), 4 David Campese (Australia), 5 Christian Wade (England), 6 Jeremy Guscott (England), 7 Mark Ring (Wales), 8 Timothy Lafaele (Japan), 9 Waisale Serevi (Fiji), 10 Quade Cooper (Australia)

STUART BARNES

1 Jonah Lomu, 2 Jonny Wilkinson (England), 3 Carlos Spencer (NZ), 4 Micky Skinner (England), 5 Finn Russell (Scotland), 6 Quade Cooper, 7 Leone Nakarawa (Fiji), 8 Eric Champ (France), 9 Mark Ring, 10 Simon Zebo (Ireland)

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