Doddie Weir talks about his battle with Motor Neurone Disease
"I'm nearly two years diagnosed come December; with any luck I've got maybe a year or plus to go and enjoy the fruits of what's in here."
Last Updated: 30/10/18 8:30am
Doddie Weir smiles broadly as he holds up his newly published autobiography, "My Name'5 Doddie" - before putting it down due to its weight. This gentle giant - 6'7' tall, a Scottish rugby legend and a Lion - now finds it a struggle to fix the buttons on his flamboyant yellow and blue waistcoat.
It's a cruel, but ultimately inevitable symptom of motor neurone disease, which Weir was diagnosed with in 2016.
For someone so young, gifted and full of life, with three teenage sons, it's been a savage blow, but Weir is still standing tall, and busier than ever raising money for his foundation to help research MND and - hopefully - find a cure.
"There's no point in getting down - I am where I am, so you've got to try and build and fight that," he says.
"[Writing the book] certainly made me think about where we are in the world, because if you've got MND your life expectancy once diagnosed is between one and three years. It's certainly been quite an emotional wrench, with what we're facing at the moment.
"I've been very fortunate from day one, I've enjoyed every minute, and I've got no regrets. To go back to rewrite life was pretty impressive; just trying to remember how lucky I've been, how every day has been a great day, a social day, with a smile when you wake up."
Weir was a totemic figure in the Scotland team of the 1990's, winning 61 caps and playing at three World Cups.
He was also part of the iconic 1997 Lions squad that triumphed in South Africa, though he had to return home early due to injury.
A well-respected pundit and a popular figure on the after-dinner circuit upon retirement, his public announcement last year that he had a terminal condition shocked the sporting world.
"I'm feeling very well," he continues. "Certainly the symptoms are there; you can see when I try to hold the book up I run out of a bit of power. It sounds a bit bizarre, but tying shoelaces is very tricky. I manage to do that, I continue to do that, and with that, it's quite a positive.
"It might not be big for some people, but for people with MND they'll understand that if you can keep doing these things, it means you're staying ahead of the disease, and that's where I am in life at the moment."
Weir's public "coming out" about his health, as he describes it, came months after the death of Springbok legend Joost van der Westhuizen from the same condition. At his peak, Van der Westhuizen was the world's best rugby player, who left Weir for dust in a Test match at Murrayfield in 1994. It was a moment which Weir jokes ended his international career as a No 8 and confirmed him as a second row.
Public awareness of MND is now widespread, in part due to the profile of the late Professor Stephen Hawking, and the plight of former Rangers captain Fernando Ricksen who was diagnosed in 2013, but there's been no advancement towards a cure in a generation.
Weir knows his time could be running out - so he's throwing himself into the fight.
"I do think keeping busy has had a major impact of where I am in the fight of this and maybe not have as many symptoms," he says.
"The generosity and the support we've had, it's been unbelievable; we're not quite a year into the Foundation and we mentioned we were going to try and put a million pounds into research and care and we've pretty much done that in a year. That wouldn't be possible without the support we've received which is just fantastic."
On Saturday, Wales and Scotland will do battle at Cardiff's Principality Stadium, after which Weir will walk onto the pitch to present the winning captain with "The Doddie Weir Cup". With his family alongside, it'll be another poignant moment - a similar on-pitch appearance a year ago when Scotland faced New Zealand at Murrayfield brought the house down.
"That New Zealand game was quite an emotional day. When anyone brings in the family, that's where it gets quite difficult to talk about. My book is something they can take on and have memories of what their dad has been up to.
"What's quite special is having a cup named after you and still being here to celebrate! It's going to be absolutely amazing and I'm certainly looking forward to it. On the Friday night there's a dinner, and a few things on the Saturday, and I've got a new suit getting ready - look out!"
Doddie Weir's autobiography, "My Name'5 Doddie", is out now.
All proceeds go towards the My Name'5 Doddie Foundation, which raises funds to aid research into the causes of MND and investigate potential cures.