Rugby

CJ Stander: Joost’s tackle was my first memory

2017-02-08 08:26
Joost van der Westhuizen's famous tackle on Jonah Lomu in the 1995 Rugby World Cup final (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Ireland flank CJ Stander is saddened by the death of his childhood hero Joost van der Westhuizen.

Van der Westhuizen, the legendary former Springbok scrumhalf, died at the age of 45 on Monday after losing a long battle with motor neuron disease.

In an interview with RTÉ Radio, Stander said his first memory - not just rugby memory - was Van der Westhuizen bringing down giant All Black wing Jonah Lomu during the 1995 World Cup final at Ellis Park (watch the video below).

Stander was just five years old at the time.

Stander, now 26, is currently living in Ireland and boasts 11 Test caps for his adopted nation.

He left the Bulls in 2012 to join the Munster club.

“I think my first memory was him taking down Jonah Lomu in that game,” Stander told the Irish radio station.

“It was an unbelievable tackle, it just shows what you can do with your body. He’s been my hero from childhood. When you grow up and you see guys like that play (like that).

“He just decided he doesn’t have respect for his body, he’s just going to take this guy down and (his death) is a tough one to take.

“(He was) fearless, he brought a lot to the game, physicality and a lot of skill, a mixture of both.”

Stander said Van der Westhuizen handed him his jersey when he made his senior debut for the Bulls in 2010.

Since then, he had a "good connection" with Van der Westhuizen, Stander said.

Van der Westhuizen, a former Springbok captain, played 89 Tests between 1993 and 2003.

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

His funeral will take place at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Friday (12:30).

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