'Joost revolutionised the scrumhalf position'

Former players and President Zuma have paid tribute to SA rugby legend Joost van der Westhuizen who lost his battle motor neuron disease on Monday afternoon.

FILE: Joost van der Westhuizen gets his pass away. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG – President Jacob Zuma says he is saddened by the death of South African Rugby legend Joost van der Westhuizen.

The former rugby national team captain died after a long battle with motor neuron disease.

The president has also extended his condolences to Van der Westhuizen's family and friends.

Presidency spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga says: "President Zuma has said Mr van der Westhuizen was one of the best rugby players that South Africa has ever produced. He has also thanked South Africans who kept Mr van der Westhuizen in their prayers during his illness."

WATCH: Former Springbok Joost van der Westhuizen dies


The iconic Springbok played 89 Tests scoring at the time a Springbok record 38 tries before being surpassed by Bryan Habana.

Joost Van der Westhuizen has been struggling since 2011 when he was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease.
His condition has deteriorated over the years and medical costs have continued to soar as he was confined to a wheelchair.

Former Springbok Chester Williams who won the 1995 World Cup alongside with Van Der Westhuizen believes he revolutionised his position.

“He is one of those players that has changed rugby, and specifically his position – that’s why he was the number one scrumhalf in the world.”

Former Bok captain Corne Krige believes Van Der Westhuizen will rank amongst the best ever players where South African rugby has ever produced.

“I think he will be remembered as one of the greatest Springbok players of all time – they guy who revolutionised the position of scrumhalf. He was, in his day, probably the best in the world.”

LISTEN: Naas Botha: Why Joost was one of a kind

(Edited by Masechaba Sefularo)