Dublin - The deaths of several South African sporting stars past and present in the past fortnight have been like losing members of one's family South Africa rugby union captain Jean de Villiers said on Friday.
De Villiers's football counterpart Senzo Meyiwa was shot dead, former 800 metres athletics world champion Mbulaeni Mulaudzi was killed in a car crash while former South Africa hooker, skipper and selector Abie Malan died following complications after undergoing knee surgery.
Former Western Province centre Tinus Linee, who played nine tour games for the Springboks without ever playing a test match, also died on Monday aged just 45 from motor neurone disease.
A minute's silence will be held as a result prior to South Africa's one-off test match with Ireland at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.
"We don't want to make too much of it," de Villiers told reporters on Friday.
"But emotions will be there. None of the guys played with Abie (he was 78) but Tinus was my first centre partner (at Western Province) so I have history with the guy.
"In paying our respects to those two and the other sportsmen who died, we show how we are united as a country again.
"It's like losing a member of your family. We are thinking of them and of course of their loss to their blood relatives," added the 34-year-old.