All Blacks great Sir Brian Lochore has revealed he’s seen off two different cancers and says he’s now looking forward to being a spectator during the British and Irish Lions tour.
His revelation comes at a time when another All Blacks legend, Sir Colin Meads, 80, is battling pancreatic cancer.
Lochore, 76, was treated for melanoma and prostate cancer during a horrible year last year that also saw him laid low by toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that can leave some with flu-like symptoms.
Lochore says he was hit hard by the infection and thinks his weakened immune system may have left him vulnerable to the two different cancers.
Meads is drinking a water-based product to help fight his cancer, but Lochore relied on daily radiation treatment to get rid of his prostate cancer. He says he’s now feeling healthy again.
“I’m going to the three Lions tests, the Hurricanes match and the Chiefs game. I’ll be out there (in the public eye) a bit more after lying low last year.”
Lochore, a Wairarapa farmer, is a unique figure in All Blacks history having been a captain, coach and selector, campaign manager and mentor. He also chairman of the Hillary Commission.
His 68 games for the All Blacks included 46 as captain after he was unexpectedly handed the role by coach Fred Allen in 1966 ahead of the more experienced Meads, Ken Gray and Kel Tremain. It was an inspired choice as he led the All Blacks to a 4-nil whitewash of the Lions that year. He went on to lose just three of the 18 tests he captained.
He later coached the All Blacks to victory at the inaugural World Cup in 1987; was campaign manager at the 1995 tournament; and was a selector in 2007 and mentor when the All Blacks won the World Cup for a second time in 2011. He was also a selector when the All Blacks beat the Lions 3-nil in 2005, and is eagerly anticipating this year’s tour in June.
He believes the Lions will be strong, but that they face a possibly crippling schedule with games against all five Super Rugby franchises and New Zealand Maori.
“The franchises are going to give them a right old bolloxing. They might not win, but they will be tough games.”
Lochore says if the Lions become a fractured squad with a first and second XV they will lose. “But we don’t know how they will gel together. If they can gel they will be strong. It’s a big challenge for the All Blacks, but a challenge always brings the best out of us.”
It’s a mantra that seems to describe Lochore’s life too – and now his successful fight with cancer.