British & Irish Lions

Former Lions prop battling cancer

Tom Smith (Getty Images)
Tom Smith (Getty Images)

Cape Town - Former Scotland captain and British and Irish Lions prop Tom Smith has revealed he's battling cancer.

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According to Scottish Rugby's official website, the 48-year-old, who played 61 Tests for Scotland and six for the British and Irish Lions between 1997 and 2005, was diagnosed with stage four colorectal cancer a few months ago.

The cancer started in his colon and has spread to his liver and brain. He has undergone intensive rounds of chemotherapy, aimed at halting the tumours growth, and is undergoing radiotherapy to treat the lesions in his brain.

Smith, now resident in the south of France, remains resolute.

"I was in my hospital bed and I said to staff: 'I'm determined to fight this'," he said.

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend, who played with Smith in their historic 2-1 series victory over South Africa in 1997, said he was arguably the best Scotland player of the professional era.

"Tom’s achievement of starting six Lions Tests in a row between that tour of South Africa and then the 2001 tour of Australia is a testament of how highly he was regarded as a player.

"Fearsomely strong and competitive, he went about his business undemonstratively, but also had an outrageous skill-set.

"He has shown a similar determination that - as someone who suffered from epilepsy - having such a condition did not mean it was a barrier to playing sport.

"For me, Tom is the outstanding Scotland player of the professional era and I'm sure rugby supporters throughout Scotland and the world will rally behind him and his family in these tough times."

- Compiled by Herman Mostert

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