He was diagnosed with motor neuron disease in 2011
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.
RIP Joost van der Westhuizen. An incredible player and fighter to the end. The first of the new age 9's.— Brian O'Driscoll (@BrianODriscoll) February 6, 2017
A great friend has left us with an incredible legacy in rugby. Joost inspired on and off the field. Rest easy blue eyes.... #j9foundation— Matt Dawson (@matt9dawson) February 6, 2017
RIP Joost van der Westhuizen, 1971-2017. Condolences to the family and friends of a true Springbok hero. pic.twitter.com/ZZ7IBEBcyE— South African Rugby (@Springboks) February 6, 2017