All Blacks legend Sir Brian Lochore dies age 78

Former All Blacks captain and coach Sir Brian James Lochore, known as one of the most revered figures in rugby, has died aged 78. 

The inaugural World Cup-winning coach was diagnosed with bowel cancer in June. 

In a statement, the widely-admired sports figure's family said Sir Brian passed away peacefully at his home in Wairarapa on Saturday night. 

His wife, Lady Pam, and the couple's three children said they are mourning but are relieved his suffering has ended. They expressed their deepest thanks for the care and support the family has received as he battled his illness. 

"We would like to note a special thanks to all the Doctors that have tried so hard and the exceptional care the palliative nurses have shown to our Dad," eldest son David Lochore said.

"To those from around New Zealand and the world who have sent messages, these have been enjoyed by our Dad and appreciated by us all.

"Our heartfelt gratitude to family and friends who have provided support to us during this time, we thank you for your kindness.

"Dad led a life that was full and one which he was very proud of. Our hearts are breaking at a life we feel still had much to give."

Sir Brian is survived by Lady Pam, their children David, Joanne and Sandra, and their eight grandchildren.

As a child, Sir Brian had the ambition of becoming a jockey but grew too big. He was also a talented tennis player. 

He made his provincial debut in 1959 for Wairarapa Bush against British Lions as a loose forward before he was invited to trial for the ABs in 1961 and 1963. It wasn't until 1963 that he made his debut as a number eight against England. He'd never played the position before he became an All Black.

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.

Sir Brian, however, was called back into the injury-ravaged side for the test series against the British and Irish Lions in 1971, famously leaving a note for his wife on their refrigerator that said: "Gone to Wellington, playing the test tomorrow".

He moved into off-field roles after that coaching Wairarapa Bush from 1980. He was promoted to first division in 1981 and was asked to be an All Black selector in 1983 before taking charge as head coach from 1985-87. 

Under Sir Brian, the All Blacks went on to win the inaugural Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and Australia in 1987.

But Lochore wasn't done with ABs and World Cups after that. He returned to managed the All Blacks 1995 World Cup team.

In 1995 he helped Jock Hobbs sign players as rugby went professional. His mana was seen as key to starving off a raid of homegrown talent by WRC (World Rugby Corp) that didn't get off the ground. He helped keep players in New Zealand. 

He became the chairman of the Hillary Comission in 1999 and was knighted in 1999 - the same year that he was inducted into the international rugby hall of fame. 

In 2004 Graham Henry invited him back into ABs management. As a selector and with his iconic status in the game, he was recognised in 2006 with the introduction of the Lochore Cup - one of the two Heartland Championship trophies.

In 2007 the sporting hero was inducted into the Order of NZ. 

Newshub.