Former All Black and Blues coach Sir John Kirwan has spoken of his love for John Mayhew, after the high-profile elite sport doctor suffered cardiac arrest and was later put in an induced coma.
Mayhew collapsed after an exercise class in Auckland on Tuesday night and a family spokesperson confirmed the Warriors doctor, who was previously the All Blacks doctor for 15 years, had a cardiac arrest as a result of a heart problem.
The 60-year-old was successfully resuscitated and put in an induced coma in intensive care in North Shore Hospital.
He was described as stable this afternoon before being transferred to Auckland City Hospital.
An Auckland District Health Board spokesman said Mayhew was in a stable condition today.
Sir John tonight told the Herald he was praying for Mayhew.
"The man saved my life, so obviously I'm praying for him and for [his wife] Sue and the family ... I just love the man."
A long-time advocate for mental health awareness, Sir John described in his book, All Blacks Don't Cry, how he and his family contacted Mayhew after the star wing realised he needed help for depression.
"Together, we rang Doc Mayhew - the All Black doctor, John Mayhew, who had become a family friend over the years - and he came round. He said - 'I don't know a lot about it but I'll get you some help'," Sir John wrote.
Sir John said he had spoken with Mrs Mayhew, but did not want to go into detail.
He was confident Mayhew - "a brilliant and strong man" - would recover.
Sir John said he was not aware of Mayhew suffering from health problems.
"He's always been fit and healthy. I just saw him on the sideline for the Warriors on Saturday."
Mayhew grew up in a soccer family - his grandfather captained the Wolverhampton Wanderers - and he played soccer and cricket before switching to rugby at age 15, after which he played a couple of games for North Harbour B.
The family spokesperson told the Herald there would be no further comment on Mayhew's health at this stage.
Mayhew, who was on the sidelines for 131 All Blacks tests, has been the team doctor for the Warriors for most of the past decade. He became an Officer of the NZ Order of Merit for his services to sports medicine in the New Years Honours List.
He was also the medical officer for Kiwi squash, cross-country and Commonwealth Games teams. Last year he was appointed to the board of Drug Free Sport New Zealand.
Among the sportspeople he became close to was late All Blacks superstar Jonah Lomu, who suffered from a kidney disorder that contributed to his death, aged 40, in November.
Mayhew, a pall-bearer at Lomu's Eden Park memorial service, said at the time he always admired Lomu for his courage in pushing on with his rugby career despite serious health setbacks.