Saturday 16 December 2017

'A fighter to the end' - Brian O'Driscoll leads the tributes to the late Joost van der Westhuizen

Joost van der Westhuizen in action against Ireland in 2000
Joost van der Westhuizen in action against Ireland in 2000
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

The world of rugby has been paying tribute to former South Africa scrum-half Joost van der Westhuizen, who has died at the age of 45.

The 1995 World Cup winner had a five-year battle with motor neurone disease before he was admitted to hospital on Saturday morning.

The scrum-half, who won 89 caps for the Springboks, is widely recognised as one of the great players in his position in world rugby, and fellow professionals have been paying tribute on social media.

The official South Africa Rugby page tweeted: "RIP Joost van der Westhuizen, 1971-2017. Condolences to the family and friends of a true Springbok hero."

Brian O'Driscoll added: "RIP Joost van der Westhuizen. An incredible player and fighter to the end. The first of the new age 9's."

Former England centre Will Greendwood added: "Rugby has lost a true warrior today - #joostvanderwesthuizen - 1995 World Cup Final - Titanic Individual Performance. Rest in Peace."

Former South African cricket Jacques Kallis also posted his condolences on Twitter. He said: "RIP Joost. Thoughts and prayers with his family and friends."

Lucas Radebe, a former captain of the South Africa football team, added: "Sad news abt the passing of former springbok Joost Van Der Westhuizen @Springboks".

Former team-mate Breyton Paulse added: "Was a pleasure sharing a dressing room with you,A warrior in every sense of the word,legend of the game,God Bless your fam,rus sag ou groteð."

Naas Botha, one of the Springboks' leading players in the early 1990s, posted: "@9Joost one of the best players in the world! It was a privilege to see him in action! Sterkte aan familie in die moeilike tyd! RIP #Legend."

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