Young actor Mosese Veaila, who will play Jonah Lomu in next year’s mini-series, has picked the best possible trainer to get him in All Black shape, in the form of Ludus Magnus director Joe Naufahu.
Naufahu, a former professional rugby player, was with Lomu in the NZ Sevens training squad so he knows just what made the All Black legend tick.
When he set up the gym about eight years ago, Lomu was one of the first to offer support.
Naufahu, who is also famous for role as a Dothraki warrior in Game of Thrones, is excited to prepare Veaila in mind and body. Standing at 1.98m, 21-year-old Veaila has the stature to play Lomu — but Naufahu says they have a lot of work to do on getting him “Lomu fitness-ready”.
“Mosese has huge shoes to fill. Literally,” Naufahu tells Spy. “He is playing, arguably one of the most naturally gifted athletes of all time. Jonah was an absolute specimen of a human being. At the moment I’m breaking Mosese in.
“Jonah was an amazing athlete, so being mobile and fluid will help Mosese with his whole performance. We need to build a solid foundation over the coming month so that in the New Year we can really start getting stuck into shaping Mosese up — so he not only has a physique like Jonah but psychologically he feels like a professional sportsman.”
Mosese will have to pack on about 10kg to bulk up like Jonah, who was “about 120kg of pure muscle at his peak”.
“Mosese is a South Aucklander and that’s where I grew up too,” says Naufahu. “I’m half-Tongan as well and we formed an immediate connection. I think we both recognise the significance of what we are doing. We want to honour Jonah and his family, and the NZ community. He is iconic and will remain one of our national treasures.”