Rugby

Joost 'fought illness like he played rugby' - Wiese

2017-02-06 20:30
Kobus Wiese (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Joost van der Westhuizen fought until the very end - a characteristic that 1995 Rugby World Cup-winning team-mate Kobus Wiese says was part of his make-up. 

Van der Westhuizen passed away on Monday following a long battle with motor neuron disease. 

"The way he fought the last five or six years ... that was the kind of player he was," Wiese told Sport24 on Monday.

"He left it out on the field all the time and would never lie down or take 'no' for an answer. That's why he was so competitive.

"In the end, we saw it again. He would not give up and that says a lot about the person."

Wiese added that it was "incredible" how Van der Westhuizen devoted so much of his time towards raising awareness of the disease ... even when his health was declining rapidly. 

"I think the way he went around the world in the state that he was to bring awareness of this terrible disease to the rest of the world ... I think he's done a great job," said Wiese. 

Wiese remembers Van der Westhuizen being elated after the 1995 World Cup final, and he remembers what made that time so special.

"It was a happy family. The team was a happy squad. To this day we are very close," Wiese said. 

But when the time came to playing against Van der Westhuizen, Wiese remembers him being one of the toughest.

"He was one of the few scrumhalves who really didn't back away from the opposition pack of forwards," Wiese recalled.

"That was just his mannerism and the way he played. He was extremely competitive. He wasn't somebody that would lie down easily."

Wiese said he and the rest of the 1995 World Cup squad were on a WhatsApp group that communicated almost daily, and that they all agreed that Van der Westhuizen was at peace now. 

"He suffered enough," said Wiese.

"He really gave it his all and I think everybody agrees that he's better off now."

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