Former All Blacks star Jonah Lomuwho died unexpectedly last week after years of suffering severe kidney problems, may have been killed by a blood clot which formed on a long haul flight from the U.K. to New Zealand via Dubai, his doctor has said.

Speaking to BBC Radio, former All Blacks doctor John Mayhew said that Jonah appeared to be in good health before he boarded the plane in the U.K., but that his kidney problems put him at greater risk of blood clots.

“We think the most likely cause is a pulmonary embolism or clot to the lung which can complicate long distance travel. Jonah was at a greater risk of that happening because of his renal condition. The other possibility is a pulmonary embolism.

“I think it was an instantaneous death, I think he was unaware of what had happened. It was one of those tragic complications that can occur in someone with chronic health conditions. 

“I think Jonah himself knew he wasn’t going to live a long life, but 40 is far too young. I think you assume though that he would go a lot longer than that. It was a surprise to everyone, and a tragic surprise at that.”

Mayhew paid tribute to a man whom he’d known since he was a “charming, shy young Polynesian man.”

“He was the strongest guy in the All Blacks, he was the fastest guy in the All Blacks.”

“He was a phenomenon.”

A public memorial service will be held next Monday 30 November at Auckland‘s Edon Park stadium, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key announced yesterday.

Image: Mark Leech via Getty Images.