Johannesburg: Former Springbok superstar John Gainsford died Wednesday aged 77 in Cape Town after a long battle with cancer, national rugby union Saru said.
Rated among the finest South African centres, he was capped 33 times and scored eight tries during an eight-year Test career from 1960.
A meteoric talent, Gainsford played senior club rugby in Cape Town at 17, inter-provincial rugby for Western Province at 19 and debuted for the Springboks at 21.
"John was a superstar of his generation and will go down in history as one of the greatest Springboks to have played the sport," said Saru president Oregan Hoskins.
"He believed that rugby was played to be won, and demonstrated this on the field with his line breaks, raw pace and power.
"I met him on many occasions. He was a great man," added Hoskins.