South African legend Joost van der Westhuizen has died aged 45

He was diagnosed with motor neuron disease in 2011

South African legend Joost van der Westhuizen has died aged 45

Joost van der Westhuizen of South Africa. Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

South African rugby legend Joost van der Westhuizen passed away on Monday afternoon aged 45 after losing his battle with motor neuron disease.

Van der Westhuizen was a member of the 1995 Rugby World Cup winning South African side and was a hugely popular figure within the game.

He was diagnosed with motor neuron syndrome in 2011.

Ireland player Paul O'Connell with Joost van der Westhuizen in 2014. Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

He was capped 89 times for the Springboks between 1993 and 2003.

Blue Bulls CEO Barend van Graan confirmed Van der Westhuizen's passing and offered his condolences to his children, family and friends.

"If there's one thing we can learn from Joost it was his passion for life. That we will never forget," he said.