Former All Blacks halfback Bruce Deans succumbs to cancer, aged 58

Former All Black Bruce Deans has died, aged 58.

Deans, a halfback who played 10 tests between 1987 and 1989, is understood to have lost his battle with cancer on late Thursday.

A tough halfback who represented Canterbury during its famous Ranfurly Shield reign between 1982-85, Deans was respected for his uncompromising attitude and work-rate around the field.

Although a member of the All Blacks squad that won the inaugural World Cup tournament that was held in New Zealand and Australia in 1987, Deans was unable to get a start ahead of captain David Kirk in any games.

Deans had to wait until Kirk had left New Zealand to study at Oxford University in England to get the opportunity to wear the All Blacks jersey in action.

He was rewarded with three appearances in Japan later that year but did not receive his first test cap until he was picked to start against Wales the following year, scoring a try in the 52-3 triumph at his home ground of Lancaster Park in Christchurch.

Rugby historians enjoyed the fact that Deans, the grand nephew of the legendary All Black Bob Deans who played for the 1905 Originals, scored a try against Wales.

That was because Bob had been denied a match-winning try against Wales during the Originals' northern tour in controversial circumstances. Witnesses to the incident were adamant Bob had crossed the tryline to score but had been dragged back into the field of play before the referee could award it.

Bruce's older brother, Robbie, also played for the All Blacks.

Bruce played his final test against Australia in Auckland in 1989, a match the All Blacks won 24-12.

Although picked for the end of season tour of Wales and Ireland, Deans was replaced by Graeme Bachop for the tests.

Deans played six more games on the tour. The following season he was not required by the All Blacks selectors, although he did play for Canterbury before heading overseas to travel, coach and play rugby.

Later Deans returned home to farm in North Canterbury.