Joost remembered as magnificent scrum-half & an inspiration

The former rugby national team captain lost his battle to motor neuron disease on Monday.

Joost Van Der Westhuizen (front) is tackled by Australian fullback Matthew Burke (R) during the Rugby World Cup semi-final match between Australia and South Africa at Twickenham stadium 30 October 1999. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG/LONDON – Tributes have poured in for Joost van der Westhuizen, who passed away at the age of 45.

The former rugby national team captain lost his battle to motor neuron disease on Monday.

WATCH: Remembering rugby legend Joost van der Westhuizen

Van der Westhuizen, who was diagnosed with the illness in 2011, has been described as an inspiration.

Sky News described him as one of the greatest scrum-halfs in rugby history.

The BBC spoke to Wales coach Rob Howley, who called him a "world class nine", while England coach Eddie Jones remembered him as an outstanding player and a great sniper.

Many have focused on van der Westhuizen's talent on the field and his dignity off the field.

The Guardian said he'll be remembered as an inspirational spirit, while former England player Jonny Wilkinson has described him as a courageous human being.

Several others, including the All Black team, took to Twitter to remember him.

Locally, Gauteng Premier David Makhura joined the sport fraternity and fans far and wide in expressing sadness over Van der Westhuizen’s death.

Makhura says Van der Westhuizen fought until the end and refused to let his condition get the better of him.

His spokesperson Phumla Sekonyane says, “He had an absolutely fantastic rugby career and was a good player. He was from Gauteng and remained strong until the end. The premier sends condolences to the family, especially to his children.”

The African National Congress says he was an integral part of the team that gave the country one of its most iconic moments in sporting history, with the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

'JOOST WAS RUGBY’S BEST'

Van der Westhuizen was the Springboks' 49th captain, taking over the armband from Gary Teichmann in 1999.

He led the Boks in 10 test matches and was on the winning side on eight occasions, making him one of the most successful South African captains in history.

Former Springbok Corne Krige said that irrespective of his captaincy credentials, he will go down as one of the best to have ever played the game.

A public memorial for van der Westhuizen will be held at Loftus Versveld at 12:30pm on Friday.

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

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)