Pienaar: Joost was a rock star

The former Springbok captain says even in the days of amateur rugby, Van der Westhuizen had a professional mindset & discipline.

Former Springbok flanker Francois Pienaar speaks during Joost van der Westhuizen’s memorial service. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Former Springbok captain Francois Pienaar says Joost van der Westhuizen was the ultra-competitor who, even in the days of amateur rugby, had a professional mindset and discipline.

Pienaar was speaking at the official provincial funeral for Van der Westhuizen at Loftus Versveld in Pretoria earlier on Friday.

The rugby legend passed away earlier this week following a long battle with motor neuron disease.

He had been battling the disease since 2011 and in January he denied reports that he required oxygen in order to assist him with breathing.

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

Pienaar says Van der Westhuisen was the ultimate team player.

“He always pushed the boundaries. An individual spirit that would do anything for his teammates. On the field he played like a rock star and on the field and off the field he partied like a rock star.”

Earlier, President of the South African National Rugby Legends Association (SARLA) Gavin Varejes has described Van der Westhuizen as one of the greatest players ever seen.

Speaking at a memorial service at Loftus Versfeld, Varejes says Van Der Westhuizen never gave up in life and always believed a cure would be found for his disease.

WATCH: Joost van der Westhuizen's last Loftus visit

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)