All Blacks' legend Smith reveals cancer battle

Wayne Smith (Gallo Images)
Wayne Smith (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Former All Blacks coach Wayne Smith has revealed that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year and underwent surgery to remove the affected gland.

The 60-year-old enjoyed a hugely successful time with New Zealand and is regarded as one of the best coaches in the sport.

He ended a 20-year association with the All Blacks in October following yet another Rugby Championship title, although the diagnosis played no part in his decision to step down from the role.

Since turning 50, Smith has been having an annual medical check-up and that was where the tumours were discovered.

“I was getting the blood tests about every six months,” he told Fairfax. “It was high PSA (prostate specific antigen) levels that initially alerted the doctor.

“High levels don't automatically mean you've got cancer, but it is an alert, and it led to me getting a digital exam, and he then thought: 'Hmm...there's a hard spot there.'

“Could have been nothing, but he sent me to the urologist. Then I had an MRI test (magnetic imaging scans), which showed up some tumours.

“Through the Rugby Championship I knew I had it, but I didn't really talk to anyone. The only one was the team doctor, Tony Page, and I didn't even tell him.”

According to Smith, the operation was a success and he is now looking to continue working in rugby, with the ex-Northampton Saints, Crusaders and Chiefs coach lining up a couple of projects.

“I'm going to help the Kobe Steelers club in Japan," Smith added. "They have a relationship with the Chiefs, and I'm going to have an involvement with the coaches at Kobe and get a bit of coaching in from time to time.

“I'll also be doing two to three weeks with the Italian national team coaches over the year. I'll attend a couple of camps to have a mentoring-type role with Conor O'Shea and Mike Catt.

“I have a real passion for Italy, its people and their rugby, so Trish (his wife) and I are looking forward to getting back there now and again.”

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