Attending the unveiling of a statue honouring his rugby greatness looks set to be Sir Colin Meads' final public appearance - with the Kiwi sporting hero confirming he won't be attending any of the upcoming British & Irish Lions tour matches.

The 80-year-old ex-All Black was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in August last year.

A statue of Meads will be erected in his home town of Te Kuiti and on June 19 a large crowd, including touring Lions fans, are expected to gather in his honour for its unveiling.

In an interview with Tony Veitch which is set to air on Newstalk ZB today, Sir Colin said while he was a bit embarrassed at the attention the statue had attracted, he was also humbled.


"It's the sort of thing you don't expect late in life. I'm an old bugger now and I'm not keeping the best of health, and you sort of think 'well, why me?'

"It helps keep you going. It is nice. It's humbling. It's something you don't push for but when asked 'would you agree to it?' you feel you've got to say 'yes'."

He's yet to see the statue himself, but Sir Colin has a fair idea of what will be revealed next month.

"One of me mates - it was Dick Tayler - [has] seen a photo of it and he said 'you've got the ball in one hand' and he said ' you should have a pint of beer in the other one'," Sir Colin told Veitch.

While his health has deteriorated recently and he isn't feeling as well as he was just a few months ago, Sir Colin said he's not giving up yet.

"I've had more scans and [they were] not so successful. But I'm still going and I've got another operation next week - just a small one - to kill some nerves that were in me stomach that I didn't know I had, so I hope that will put it right.

"I'm having a bit of pain and that sort of thing. But I'm still fighting it, I'm going to be here for a while yet."

An All Blacks legend who played 55 test matches for our national team from 1957 to 1971, Sir Colin said he was looking forward to seeing the All Blacks take on the Lions during their upcoming tour, but won't be heading along to watch the matches.

"I won't be getting to any of the tests - I got used to watching them all last year on television and I think to myself I know it's a lot better watching them live but it's not bad watching them at home either."

He said it had been "tremendous" to watch young players like Beauden Barrett succeed on the field and fondly recalled playing against the Lions back when the All Blacks were given only one pair of boots and two jerseys - plus an extra for each test - for a tour.

"I played for the enjoyment and we had good teams in those days - right through the 60s, and it was good to be part of it.

"[The Lions] used to tour a lot more in those days because the tours to Australia, they used to fit them in with New Zealand. They'd play three or four games in Australia and then come to New Zealand and so we saw a bit more of them."

Although the All Blacks were doing "pretty well", Meads said the Lions were a good team who still had a chance at taking out the tour.

"I don't think we want to be too cocky because this Lions team might give us a fight. But it depends how they go about it - whether they're going to try to out-muscle us up front and beat us into the ground, or whether they're going to give it a bit of air.

"It'll be interesting to see... It's just a matter of how the game goes and how the injuries affect both sides, how the injuries are going to affect New Zealand. We've got a fair few now."