Former All Blacks captain and inaugural World Cup-winning coach Brian Lochore has been diagnosed with bowel cancer.
The 78-year-old Lochore, a rugged loose forward in the great All Blacks teams of the 1960s, was diagnosed earlier this week, said New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew.
"He is in relatively good health at the moment, and he will undergo treatment soon," Tew said via a statement.
Lochore, who as a child had the ambition of becoming a jockey, was also a top- level tennis player.
He made his debut for the All Blacks in 1963 on the tour of Britain and Ireland before he went on to play 68 games, 25 of which were Tests.
He was appointed captain of the team in 1966 by coach Fred Allen ahead of more experienced players like Colin Meads and Kel Tremain, before he retired in 1970 following the tour of South Africa.
Lochore, however, was called back into the injury-ravaged side for the test series against the British and Irish Lions in 1971, leaving a note for his wife
"Pam: 'Gone to Wellington, playing the test tomorrow' on their refrigerator."
After retiring from playing, Lochore moved into coaching.
He was appointed an All Blacks selector in 1983 and was the coach from 1985-87, dealing with the fallout of a rebel tour of South Africa in 1986 and reintegrating the players back into the national side.
Under Lochore the All Blacks went on to win the inaugural Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and Australia in 1987.