Wayne Smith has revealed he secretly battled prostate cancer.
Smith was an All Black from 1980 to 1985 and served as an assistant coach for 16 years, before stepping down in 2017.
- Outgoing All Blacks coach Wayne Smith delighted with home send-off
- Assistant coach Wayne Smith leaving All Blacks after Rugby Championship
- Race begins for All Blacks assistant coach role after Wayne Smith announces departure
He told Stuff tumours were discovered in his prostate as part of a routine check-up by his doctor in 2017.
"My doctor in Cambridge... decided to start doing some PSA tests, when I was getting blood tests," he said.
Changing levels of PSA (prostate specific antigen) can indicate there are cancerous cells in the prostate.
"I was getting the blood tests about every six months. It was high PSA levels that initially alerted the doctor."
Smith then had a digital exam, which he says showed a hard spot, and a MRI which showed some tumours.
Thankfully the cancer was curable, but it was a nervous time as he worked out what method to take with treatment.
Eventually Smith made the decision to have the entire prostate removed in a prostatectomy as CT scans showed the cancer had not spread.
The operation took place on December 8 and was a complete success, Smith calling recovery easier than some of the rugby injuries he had sustained over his career.
He's going public now with the story in the hopes it will "encourage guys in their 50s to go and get the tests, and get a marker. It doesn't mean you've got it, but if it is there, you can fix it," he told Stuff.