The former Scotland and Northampton Saints rugby player Tom Smith has been diagnosed with cancer.

The 48-year-old prop forward won 61 caps for his country and made six appearances for the British and Irish Lions.

He was diagnosed with stage four colorectal cancer earlier this autumn and is undergoing radiotherapy after the cancer spread to his liver and brain.

I was in my hospital bed and I said to staff, ‘I’m determined to fight this'.

Tom Smith, Rugby Union player
Tom was part of the last ever 5 Nations Championship win with Scotland in 1999 Credit: Scottish Rugby

Tom, who has three children aged 18, 17 and nine, told the BBC howhe tried to ignore pains in his abdomen, which eventually led to him getting medical help after he noticed he was losing weight and passing blood.

"I played rugby for 15 years professionally", Tom said.

"Aches and pains are part of the deal as you get older. I think I wrote it off until it got to the point that I needed to do something."

"I try to get on with things and that's probably my downfall.

"Life has changed very quickly. I want to do the right thing for my family; this all leaves you a bit exposed.

"I'm lucky enough to have a good group of friends and a strong communityhelping and supporting."

Tom hung up his boots at the age of 37 Credit:

Tom spent eight years at Franklin's Gardens, from 2001 until 2009 and made 191 appearances for the club.

In 2002 he was selected in the Zurich World XV and followed that up in 2005 with a Barbarians appearance.

Northamptonshire Saints have paid tribute to Tom on Twitter. In a tweet the club said: "Terribly sad news breaking this morning.

"Tom - we’re all thinking of you here at the Gardens. Stay strong."

A fundraising dinner, supported by close friend Shaun Longstaff and fellow Scotland winger Kenny Logan, will be held in March to help raise money for Tom and his family.