Springbok captain out for six months with knee injury
November 10, 1999

Springbok captain Joost van der Westhuizen on Wednesday said he will miss six months of rugby after injuring his right knee again in the team's World Cup semi-final defeat against Australia.

The mercurial scrum-half, who will undergo surgery on Wednesday morning, says he played "a game and half" with a torn knee tendon after injuring himself midway through the Wallabies clash.

"After the Australia game I was in pain. After New Zealand (the third place play-off), I couldnt walk," a limping Van der Westhuizen told a business breakfast in Johannesburg.

Van der Westhuizen, South Africas highest try scorer with 29 Test tries, took over the Springbok captaincy shortly before the World Cup.

He called Wednesday for the rules around the controversial tackle ball to be changed, saying it was impractical.

"They must do something around the tackle ball. The tackled player has a second to let go while the tackler has to roll away."

Van der Westhuizen, who only returned to playing rugby in June, said he sympathised with Bobby Skinstad, the talented loose forward who replaced axed skipper Gary Teichmann at No.8 and is also nursing a knee injury.

Skinstad was way off the dynamic game-breaker form he showed in last years Tri-Nations victories, and many thought his inclusion at Teichmann's expense soured the 'Boks chances of retaining the William Webb Ellis trophy.

"He had a serious knee injury. Bobby had to overcome his injury. He might have got back too soon to provincial rugby. It took me four or five months to get back.

"He did what was expected of him. He served me well, he passed well. But just because he didnt play his own game, he wasn't a disappointment."

Van der Westhuizen, South Africa's second most capped player with 57 Tests, believes South Africa took their best side to the World Cup, despite harsh criticism about coach Nick Mallet's selection of players.

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