Van der Westhuizen’s wife, children in ‘complete state of shock’ after his death

The former Bok's estranged wife Amor says she & their two children are in a complete state of shock after his passing yesterday.

Joost van der Westhuizen, Amor Vittone and their children Jordan and Kylie. Picture:

JOHANNESBURG – As the sporting world continues to mourn the passing of Joost van der Westhuizen his estranged wife Amor Vittone says she and their two children are in a complete state of shock.

The 45-year-old lost his battle to Motor Neuron Disease on Monday.

He was diagnosed with the illness in 2011.

In a Facebook post, Vittone has thanked Van der Westhuizen’s fans and supporters for their messages of condolences.

She says her priority now is to steer her children through the loss.

Many of Van der Westhuizen’s former teammates were in shock on Monday after his J9 Foundation confirmed that he had died at his home, surrounded by loved ones.

Former Bok lock Mark Andrews, who was Van der Westhuizen’s teammate during the Springboks’ victorious 1995 Rugby World Cup campaign, said that the members of that squad were not surprised with how hard he battled Motor Neuron Disease.

“Many of us were just saying he fought this disease the way he played rugby, he never gave up. It was just Joost fighting and never wanting to give up. He fought with the disease the same way to the end.”

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

WATCH: Remembering rugby legend Joost van der Westhuizen

Van der Westhuizen played 89 times for the Springboks, captaining them at the 1999 Rugby World Cup.

Before his passing, he had been confined to a wheelchair.

In a statement confirming his passing, the J9 Foundation said that the Van Der Westhuizen family has been left devastated by the former scrumhalf’s death.

“The family remain strong under the circumstances, however are devastated at the loss. This is a great loss to so many around the world and the family would like to extend their greatest gratitude for the love and support shown over this difficult time.

“We ask that the family’s privacy be respected at this time and funeral arrangements will be notified in due course.”

SA Rugby president Mark Alexander has paid tribute to the scrumhalf, describing Van der Westhuizen as one of the greatest Springbok players of all time.

“Joost will be remembered as one of the greatest Springboks – not only of his generation, but of all time,” said Alexander said.

President Jacob Zuma has also expressed his sadness on the passing of Van der Westhuizen.

“South Africa has lost a legend and one of the best rugby players that the country has ever produced. On behalf of the Government and the people of South Africa, our heartfelt condolences to Mr van der Westhuizen’s family. May his soul rest in peace.”

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)