South African Rugby
Van der Westhuizen: 'Every day could be my last'
ESPN Staff
August 20, 2013
Joost van der Westhuizen greets the Johannesburg crowd in 2012 © Getty Images

World Cup-winning Springboks scrum-half Joost van der Westhuizen has opened up about his battle against motor neurone disease and says he is on his "deathbed".

Van der Westhuizen is widely regarded as one of the game's best ever players. He was South Africa's scrum-half when they took the 1995 World Cup and won 89 caps for the Springboks over a 10-year Test career. But in 2011, his life changed forever when he was diagnosed with the terminal disease.

It was Van der Westhuizen's friend and doctor Henry Kelbrick who identified the illness when the ex-scrum-half felt a weakness in his arm.

"Kelbrick identified something, so he rang me up later and asked me to come in that afternoon," Van der Westhuizen told the BBC. "He apologised to me, and then he told me what it was. First of all I asked him to give me medication, but then he told me about the severity of the condition and that it was terminal."

Van der Westhuizen is now consigned to a wheelchair and said: "I realise every day could be my last. It's been a rollercoaster from day one and I know I'm on a deathbed from now on. I've had my highs and I have had my lows, but no more. I'm a firm believer that there's a bigger purpose in my life and I am very positive, very happy."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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