Wellington - New Zealand rugby legend Colin Meads confirmed on Thursday that he has cancer, vowing to fight the disease as he requested privacy for his family.
Meads, who turned 80 in June, said he was diagnosed with the illness following six months of poor health.
He was first admitted to hospital with a kidney illness and said confirmation that he had pancreatic cancer had been "bloody hard" for his wife Verna, their children and grandchildren.
"The kids are all close to their mum and each other, and we'll come right together," he said.
"Thank you to everyone for their concern. But for now, it's about me fighting this, and we want to get on with what we are facing privately, as a family."
New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew described Meads as "a true legend" of the game.
"It is with great sadness we hear of the seriousness of his condition. Our thoughts, like so many others in New Zealand and around the rugby world are with him, his wife Verna and his family as he works through the next steps in his treatment," Tew said.
Meads played the first of his 55 Tests in 1957 and retired 14 years later after captaining the All Blacks against the British and Irish Lions.
At the end of 1999 he was named the New Zealand Player of the Century and was later knighted.