Cape Town - Ex-Springbok flyhalf Naas Botha has paid tribute to Joost van der Westhuizen after the former scrumhalf passed away on Monday.
The 45-year-old former Springbok captain lost his battle to motor neuron disease, having first been diagnosed with the illness in 2011.
Botha, who played 28 Tests for the Boks between 1980 and 1992, spoke to Pretoria radio station Jacaranda FM shortly after news broke of Van der Westhuizen’s death on Monday.
The two had played together for the Blue Bulls in the early 1990s.
“Just a sad day for South African rugby,” Botha said.
“We know it was a difficult road for Joost, the last number of years, but if I can look at Joost van der Westhuizen as the rugby player, he was absolutely phenomenal.
“And if you look at his career, at the University of Pretoria, at the Bulls, South Africa, he won a World Cup... you can just lay out the accolades because he was just so good."
Van der Westhuizen played 89 Tests for the Springboks 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.
Van der Westhuizen's funeral will be held at 12:30 on Friday, February 10 at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.