Boks shocked at Joost illness
Marlene Malan - Rapport
Cape Town - It’s a shock and a wake-up call.
That is the words of Naas Botha, former Springbok and current rugby commentator about the news that Joost van der Westhuizen has been diagnosed with motor neuron disease.
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Botha, who is currently participating in the SuperSport Shootout in Knysna, says that “Joost van der Westhuizen” was the big talking point on everyone’s lips on Saturday.
“It’s shocking news. Everyone’s despondent and sad. Were all asking questions, because we don’t even know exactly what it means to have this disease. It’s still sinking in. But it’s all we're talking about.”
Botha says that everyone (at the SuperSport shootout) agrees that “people are so intertwined in their own humanness that a wake-up call like this rocks you to your core.
“Joost van der Westhuizen was one of the greats of South African rugby. To be interred in the International Rugby Hall of Fame, is an acknowledgement for his tremendous quality as a rugby player.
“To now be suffering from a disease like this is very bad.
“It just shows that illness does not choose age. Illness is also not something we could choose. We’re all just human.
Botha says South Africa’s rugby role-players will “for sure” be present in Van der Westhuizen’s life in future.
“As soon as we know more facts, we will lend our help and support.”
Francois Pienaar, the Spingboks’ 1995 World Cup winning captain, told Rapport through an SMS that he has already talked to Van der Westhuizen, but wants to keep their conversation private. “My heart goes out to Joost and his family. I fully support him during this time.”
Rudolph Straeuli, another member of the 1995 World Cup winning group and former Springbok coach, says Joost is a rugby legend in South Africa.
“We are all very shocked at this news. But, he is a man who won’t lie down easily. That’s what he’s always being known for – a big fighter. We will stand by him and help him through the fight and pain.
“I don’t know what his prospects are, but he is sure to receive help from all of us.”