South African rugby legend Joost van der Westhuizen, given 5 years to live

South African rugby legend and World Cup Winner Joost van der Westhuizen has been formally diagnosed with a motor neuron disease which his doctor has advised gives him an 80% chance of living between two and five years.

Joost van der Westhuizen
Joost van der Westhuizen in action

The former Springboks Captain and scrum-half had a hugely successful international career between 1993 and 2003, winning 89 caps and scoring 38 tries, a national scoring record he currently shares with Bryan Habana.
Van der Westhuizen was regarded as one of the world’s best scrum-halves and played a key role in South Africa’s famous World Cup victory in 1995.

Only 40 years old, he was diagnosed with a motor neuron disease in May 2011 after experiencing loss of muscle power and slurred speech. A formal diagnosis of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) was made this week; one of the most common form of motor neuron disease.

Van der Westhuizen’s agent, Bridget Van Oerle commented that, ‘Joost is devastated and has asked to be left alone to collect his thoughts’.

Everyone here at wishes Joost the very best; our thoughts are with him through these difficult times.

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