George Gregan Pays The Late Joost van der Westhuizen The Highest Of Compliments
Latest posts by Jason Hennessy (see all)
Legendary Wallaby scrumhalf George Gregan has paid tribute to Joost van der Westhuizen.
Van der Westhuizen lost his long battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a form of motor neuron disease, on Monday, with Gregan declaring that the World Cup-winner changed the way halfbacks played the game and will go down as one of rugby’s all-time greats.
Van der Westhuizen was capped 89 times for the Springboks and captained South Africa on 10 occasions, and still holds the record for most international tries scored by a scrumhalf.
He played an pivotal role in the Springboks winning the 1995 World Cup and will forever be remembered for his try-saving tackle on a runaway Jonah Lomu.
“He’s one of the great Springbok players,” Gregan told foxsports.com.au.
“No one will ever forget what he did, along with Francois Pienaar and all his teammates, in 1995 when South Africa hosted the first World Cup after Apartheid and won.
“He was such an influential player in that World Cup and for the Springboks for many, many years.”
“He was unique,”
“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 winger. 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.
“I loved playing against him. He was a real competitor. Mind you, I don’t think many people who play for South Africa aren’t competitors, but Joost was right up there.”
Rest in peace Joost. No doubt one of the very best.