Australian rugby pays tribute to Joost

Australian rugby figures have paid tribute to South African World Cup winner Joost van der Westhuizen, who has died at the age of 45.

Van der Westhuizen, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2011, is being remembered as one of rugby union’s greatest scrumhalves.

Former Wallabies captain Tim Horan said he was the most competitive player he had ever opposed, while playmaker Quade Cooper described the retired Springbok as a “true hero”.

“Rugby world lost another great person and player,” former Wallabies back David Campese tweeted.

“Joost … will be remembered for the great fight he had to fight. RIP my friend.”

Van der Westhuizen, an international rugby hall of famer, was at the time of his retirement in 2003 the most capped Springbok, playing 89 Tests.

The former South African captain played in the victorious 1995 World Cup campaign, starting in the No.9 jersey in the 15-12 final win over New Zealand in Johannesburg.

England’s Australian coach Eddie Jones said van der Westhuizen was an exceptional player and his loss would be felt greatly in the rugby world.

“A very good long-passer with a great kicking game, a terrific defender and a guy who really influenced the players,” Jones told the BBC.

“Having coached against him when he played for the Bulls, they were a completely different team with him playing and he will be sorely missed.

“You had to be very tight around the ruck when you played against him because he was a great sniper.

“He was such a big guy who had good pace and was difficult to defend against.”

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