Lomu remains role model

(File)
(File)

Ethan Bai rose to prominence in front of a crowd of thousands at the opening ceremony of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, guided by his childhood hero, Jonah Lomu.

The gentle giant of rugby is never far from this Hamilton teenager's mind.

"The guy that I met, the guy that I looked up to, he's gone now. It's sad to see," says Ethan.

At the opening ceremony Ethan dodged rugby players in a role combining his love of acting and rugby, but it was meeting Jonah that left the biggest mark.

"I'm only up to his shoulder, not even that. And when I grabbed his hand, I was only able to grab his thumb. Such a cool moment, never going to forget it," he says.

Lomu is credited with inspiring a generation of young New Zealanders - and for Ethan that inspiration wasn't confined to the rugby field.

He's already competed in the nationals at trampolining. His next goal, he says, is to become an All Black.

"The way he got into rugby at such a young age. He was the youngest ever New Zealand All Black. He just showed that I can achieve anything," says Ethan.

While Jonah Lomu leaves behind a huge legacy on the field, Ethan believes it was the way he inspired others that will forever set him apart from the rest.

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