Joost: Revolutionary and a class act on and off the field

Dubai Exiles coach Jacques Benade pays tribute to Joost van der Westhuizen, who passed away at the age of 45.

Sport360 staff
by Sport360 staff
7th February 2017

article:7th February 2017

Joost van der Westhuizen was a popular figure in the UAE.
Joost van der Westhuizen was a popular figure in the UAE.

I had the privilege to play with a young Joost van der Westhuizen for Northern Transvaal when we were both in our early 20s.

He made it very easy for me as a No10 by always taking a lot of pressure off me because, even at a young age, Joost had a great kicking game and an excellent pass.

I will always remember how he made it look as if he had more time on the ball than anyone else. It was an ability he made best use of as he always made the right decision whether it was kicking, passing or taking the opposition on with his turn of pace.

He was a great player but also a great guy who had the respect of so many in the game beyond his team-mates and those who knew him.

He was much-loved in South Africa because at a time when a number of players were being offered huge money to play overseas he remained loyal to Transvaal. Loyalty also being a mark of what defined him as a person.

The bigger the game, the more he enjoyed the challenge and delivered time and time again at domestic and international level. His consistency throughout his career was remarkable. He will always be remembered as the player who started the new generation of half-backs.

Joost was not the stereotypical No9 and definitely forever changed both how scrumhalfs played. He was exciting to watch with ball in hand, attacking defences, had a great pass and a magic kicking game with his left foot.

But he was also a really aggressive defender not afraid to take the forwards on and was an excellent leader on the pitch. His understanding of the game and his support lines were a pleasure to witness over such a fantastic career.

The rugby community has lost an inspirational and wellrespected sportsman. Joost never stopped fighting the disease and once again showed his spirit, but in a different way. He was an unbelievable competitor on the field and that translated into his personal life.

Jacques Benade is Director of Rugby at Dubai Exiles and a former South Africa A captain.



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