Former All Blacks first five-eighth Tony Brown has undergone life-saving surgery in Japan after suffering an injury during a club match, local newspapers have reported.
The Yomiuri Shimbun said Brown ruptured his pancreas while playing a club match in October. He spent five weeks in a Tokyo hospital and developed acute pancreatitis.
"They (the doctors) said it was quite severe and they needed to operate to save my life," Brown told the newspaper.
"The operation went well and now it is a matter of recovering slowly and getting my body weight back up."
Brown, 33, played 18 tests for New Zealand between 1999 and 2001, mostly as a backup to Andrew Mehrtens, and was a member of the All Blacks squad at the 1999 World Cup.
He has spent the last four years playing club rugby in Japan and two seasons with South African teams in the Super 14.