SportsClub.co.za takes a look at 9 of the best moments from Joost van der Westhuizen’s career.
SCORING ON DEBUT
Makes his Test debut for the Springboks against Argentina in Buenos Aires on 6 November 1993 at the age of 22. Scores a crucial try that helps the Boks claim a narrow 29-26 victory.
TACKLE ON LOMU
Much was made of the All Blacks’ 1.96m, 120kg winger Jonah Lomu in the buildup to the 1995 World Cup. Lomu lived up to the hype over the course of the tournament by literally running over defenders on his way to the tryline. But when New Zealand faced South Africa in the final, the hosts managed to shut the big man down. The All Blacks unleashed Lomu after winning a scrum and while he was able to beat two defenders initially, the cover defence was simply too good. Lomu looked to go inside Van der Westhuizen, but the smaller man drove his shoulder into the tackle and hung on for dear life. The Boks went on to win the game 15-12, as well as the title.
HAT-TRICK HURTS WALES
Scores the first of his two Test hat-tricks against Wales in Cardiff on 15 December 1996. The first showcases the scrumhalf’s raw power, as he fights his way past two defenders after a 5m scrum. After taking an offload in midfield, he runs 30-odd metres, swerving inside and barging past the final would-be tackler to score his second. Later in the match, when ball has rolled free from a ruck near the Welsh tryline, Van der Westhuizen reacts quickest, scooping it up and dotting down for the third time.
LASHING THE LIONS
The Boks go into the third and final Test against the British & Irish Lions in 1997 – what many have called a dead rubber – desperate for a consolation victory. Van der Westhuizen picks up the ball at the base of the ruck, shrugs off one tackle, bisects two more defenders and then veers to the right to avoid a desperate Neil Jenkins. The try seals the result for the Boks, although they still lose the series 2-1.
FINISHING OFF THE ALL BLACKS
On 15 August 1998, the All Blacks go to half-time of the Tri-Nations Test in Durban with a commanding 17-5 lead. The Boks fight back in the second half to win the game 24-23 and edge closer towards an inaugural Tri-Nations title. Van der Westhuizen is the man who scores the decisive try at Kings Park.
After an outstanding year with the Boks that culminates in a Tri-Nations triumph, Van der Westhuizen helps the Blue Bulls defeat Western Province 24-20 to claim the Currie Cup title. It marks his first domestic success with the Pretoria-based side.
On 28 November 1998, Van der Westhuizen scores a try as the Boks beats Ireland 27-13 in Dublin. The victory marks South Africa’s 17th successive Test win and sees them equalling the all-time record. The try is Van der Westhuizen’s eighth of the season.
ENDING THE ENGLISH
Most will remember the 1999 World Cup quarter-final between the Boks and England for the five drop-goal effort by flyhalf Jannie de Beer. While De Beer certainly deserves credit for that victory, it should be noted that Van der Westhuizen, as Bok captain at the time, lands a crucial blow right before half-time. England leads 12-9 after 35 minutes when the Boks surge forward. Van der Westhuizen is on hand to receive an offload and employs all of his speed and power as he aims towards the corner flag and forces the ball down. Van der Westhuizen led the Boks in 10 Tests and still boasts the second-best win record as a South African captain (80%).
LEADING FROM THE FRONT
Van der Westhuizen wins his second Currie Cup title with the Blue Bulls, this time as captain. This time, the feat is achieved away from home, as the Bulls smash the Golden Lions 31-7 at Ellis Park. Afterwards, a couple of the Bulls players lift their skipper onto their shoulders to acknowledge his influence in the decider.
Photo: Tertius Pickard/Gallo Images
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