TRIBUTES have been paid to Phil Kingsley Jones, the popular Gwent rugby figure who managed the legendary All Black Jonah Lomu.

Jones, father to former Wales and Ebbw Vale captain and ex-Dragons coach Kingsley, died aged 72 in Auckland.

A former player with Blaina, Ebbw Vale and Abertillery, comedian Jones emigrated to New Zealand in the 1980s.

It was there that he discovered Lomu as a teenager and he managed him for most of a career that saw the winger become a global sensation.

As his manager and confidante, Jones convinced Lomu to reject lucrative offers from other sports, notably the NFL, to remain in New Zealand and become the sport's biggest star.

Jones also coached the Tongan national team, taking them on tours to South Africa and the UK in 1997.

"Dad died peacefully in his sleep with his wife, Verina, and daughters Vikki and Rhianon at his bedside,” said Kingsley Jones.

“He had been in declining health since falling at home a few months ago. We shall forever remember him as a man who lived life to the full and for all those lucky enough to have known him, he made the world a better place.

“A comedian, coach and mentor to one of the greatest rugby players the world has ever seen, dad was first and foremost a husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and brother.

“We are all so very proud of his achievements, not least his massive influence on Counties Manukau rugby over a period of more than 30 years. He will be sorely missed by his family and countless friends.’’