Rugby

Artist Loyiso Bala heaps praise on ‘icon Joost’

2017-02-10 12:29
Joost van der Westhuizen (Gallo Images)

Pretoria - Artist Loyiso Bala says former Springbok legend Joost van der Westhuizen was an inspiration to many people.

"He was an icon people looked up to, he did not represent just rugby, but he represented South Africa as a country," Bala said ahead of the memorial service at Loftus Versfeld on Friday.

Bala said the passing of Van der Westhuizen came as a big shock to him.

"All of us knew that was going to happen, but at the same time he was fighting. I don't think anyone deserved it."

He said he will remember the legendary scrumhalf for his ability to change the game.

Bala said he has always been close with the Van der Westhuizen family.

"They asked me to sing the national anthem at the memorial today. It means a lot to me and I've always known Joost. We used to attend a lot of social events together."

Bala will perform the national anthem with his younger brother at the memorial on Friday.

The 45-year-old Van der Westhuizen died of motor neuron disease on Monday, having been diagnosed with the illness in 2011.

Van der Westhuizen's health took a turn for the worse over the weekend and he was rushed to hospital.

The former Springbok captain played 89 Tests for the Springboks between 1993 and 2003.

He scored a then-Springbok record of 38 tries and is widely regarded as one of the game’s finest-ever scrumhalves.

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