Rugby

World's greatest No 9s remember Joost

2017-02-07 13:07
Joost van der Westhuizen (Getty Images)

Cape Town - Joost van der Westhuizen is wildly considered one of the greatest scrumhalves to ever play rugby. 

And, judging by the reaction that followed his death on Monday afternoon, those involved in the game agree with that assessment. 

Van der Westhuizen's greatest rivals are considered to be New Zealand's Justin Marshall and Australia's George Gregan - and both of those players offered their thoughts on what a special player Van der Westhuizen was.

Marshall suggested that, during his peak, Van der Westhuizen was probably the best rugby player in the world while Gregan credits Van der Westhuizen with changing the way halfbacks played rugby. 

"He was unique,” Gregan told Fox Sports.

"He’s one of those unique players who probably changed the way a halfback, particularly a big halfback, played the game. He was about six-foot-two and was such an athletic player.

"He could change games individually, he could kick with both feet and he’d back himself with his turn of speed. He had the speed of a wing. He was just a real threat.

"You’d have team meetings and you’d talk about the ‘Joost factor’. You don’t normally talk about a halfback in that regard. Halfbacks are decision makers. To use a basketball analogy, they’re probably more on their assists. They’ve got a bit of a running game, but he could cut loose like an outside back."

Former England scrumhalf Matt Dawson also spoke about Van der Westhuizen in a column he wrote for BBC.

"Joost was one of the new breed of rugby players, not just a scrumhalf," he wrote.

"Traditionally the position had been about kicking and passing from behind the forward pack. He tried playing the game at a very different pace, playing in different positions on the pitch - no one had really done that before.

"Every player knew that when Joost was around the fringes he would be a threat.

"Every move he made, every part of his brilliant armoury we had to understand because he was so lethal.

"Everyone knew if they could get the upper-hand on Joost then they could get the better of the team."

 

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