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‘Joost best Bok 9 ever’


Former All Black scrumhalf Justin Marshall regards Joost van der Westhuizen as the greatest No 9 in Springbok history.

According to the Stuff.co.nz website’s Marc Hinton, the scrumhalves were arch-rivals for nearly a decade and considered the top players in the position for the majority of that period.

Marshall said the 1995 Rugby World Cup winner, who played in 89 Springbok Tests and scored 56 tries, is the best scrumhalf South Africa ever produced.

“When he was on song he could flip a game and win it almost single-handedly,” Marshall told Fairfax News.

“He was a magic player. One time I remember he made a break through the line, I was defending deeper, and I thought this was my chance to line him up and put him into a hospital ward. I launched myself, only for him to chip over my head, pirouette around me and score beside the posts.”

Marshall said his respect and admiration for Van der Westhuizen has only increased since the Springbok legend was diagnosed with motor neuron disease in 2011.

“He’s suffering, and it’s really difficult to see the way he is now,” he said.

“You know he is going to die from it, and die sooner rather than later.”

During his last visit to South Africa in February this year, Marshall watched in awe as Van der Westhuizen auctioned off memorabilia to raise funds for his J9 Foundation in aid of motor neuron disease sufferers.

“To see him giving up the things that meant the most to him to support the fight against motor neuron disease, it was a pretty overwhelming thing,” said Marshall.

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  1. The idea that Marshall and Van Der Westhuizen were “rivals” for the best scrumhalf spot is a joke. Marshall never had half the talent Van Der Westhuizen had… Marshall was there as the far away second best so everyone could see what a class act Van Der Westhuizen was. Kind of the difference between Shane Warne and the second best leg spinner in his era. There simply never was an equal to Van Der Westhuizen in his era.

    However there is strong argument to say that Fourie Du Preez is the best #9 the world ever produced, closely followed by Joost Van Der Westhuizen…

    Perhaps that is the problem of our present era of scrumhalf shortage. We were so spoilt by Van Der Westhuizen and Du Preez that we didn’t realize what we had till the era of the two was over… now we have fools happing bubbles because Hougaard has failed to step up and Ruan Pienaar just isn’t good delivering and Janno vVrmaak just doesn’t have the tactical nous of the great Bulls scrumhalves that preceded him.

    Oh we can talk up the crop of youngsters but the fact is it’s like hoping that Danie Craven would be replaced as a player in his own era after he retired…

    Second issue is that we simply do not realize that the Jake White / Pieter De Villiers players like Vic Matfield, Percy Montgomery, Bryan Habana, Jaque Fourie, Schalk Burger, John Smit etc were part of a special generation of players that are on the same scale as the 2003 England team and the 1991 Wallabies and the 1986 All Blacks.





  2. I am a great admirer of both Joost and du Preez.
    For me Joost in his prime was by far the greatest scrumhalf of the modern era.

  3. Reply to DavidS @ 8:19 pm:

    I always thought Kelleher was better than Marshall… and during that time one better than all of them was none other than George Gregan…

    As good as Joost was… at his best Fourie Du Preez was the world’s best half-back… not just a Springbok great… but the world’s best…

  4. He is right full stop.
    Best no 9 ever in green and gold

    Fourie du preez?dont make me fkn laugh

    He is nowhere in the same league.
    Nowhere even close

  5. Miertjie I have a lot of respect for your
    rugby savvy
    But that is suiwer kak
    Fdp passes high more often than not
    Even at his best
    He is not half the 9 joist was
    Not even half

  6. As for that quick tap and score
    While AB watching
    Even ref looking stupid
    One of the best halfback tries ever

  7. And the 1st tackle on Jona lomu in Wc?
    Go look.
    Set the standard
    Below the knees and planke toe
    Another mix of bobby skinstadt and gaffie
    All talk of greatness
    Glimpses of talent
    And fades when the heat is on

  8. Reply to Duiwel @ 1:29 am:

    Joost’s biggest strength was… well his strength and size. He was the most dangerous 9 around the fringes and the best defending 9 in the world.

    However, his kicking game was poor and he like Nick-Farr Jones, could not pass to his right.

    Tactically there was none better than Fourie. A 9 who can control the flow of the game is very, very rare. The only other 9 that could do that was Gregan. His anticipation in support play was unequalled, he offered one of the best boots falling back on defense, he had the most accurate kick from rucks and set phases, and he has the ability most international flyhalves and centres don’t even have – passing players into space and this from a static position!

    I have said many times I reckon Fourie could have been an outstanding flyhalf because of his skills, but he set the bar of what 9’s should be able to do at international level.

    One aspect to measure a player’s worth is to look at the times he was not there, 2010 is a good example in Fourie’s case.

    Unfortunately for Fourie, he will be remembered for his last season for the Boks in 2011 when he played with an injury.

    But in 2009 he set the bar for 9 play which is yet to be equalled in world rugby, not even mentioning what he did in 2007…

  9. Reply to bryce_in_oz @ 1:00 am:

    Ja with you there Brycie.

    The fact that FDP was not named player of the World Cup in 2007 is a fucking shame and when Richie McCaw won Player of the Season in 2009 it was a slap in the face of anyone who knows anything about rugby.

    FDP is simply the best #9 ever to play rugby union.

    Reply to Morné @ 7:31 am:

    And here I am with you Morne… the genius of Fourie Du Preez was the amount of time players scored off him… in 2009 for instance he put Morne Steyn into space plenty of times. That try against New Zealand for instance was pure FDP magic.

    The magic of the man was in not realizing how effective he was.

    That 2007 crushing 36-0 against England… THAT game more than anything was exactly the worth of the man and how outstanding he was. It was one of the few games one actually saw him stand out. BUT he did that always, and nobody saw.

    Du Preez is the best scrumhalf ever to play rugby union.

  10. We can go on arguing about this all day, but the truth is that Joost and Fourie is vastly different players from different eras who were both had an massive impact on the Boks performance.
    It is highly subjective to make comparrisons like this but for me Joost, du Preez and Gregan was the best of the modern scrumhalves, with Joost the greatest of them all.

  11. Ja but it’s a lekker talk.

    Marshall is known to HATE the Springboks for some reason… not sure why… just read it on Johnny King once that Marshall hates the Boks so likes to do his best against them.

    I tend to agree with Morne though.

    If you were looking for flashy stuff then Joost was your man. He was powerful, fast and he had a ferocious tackle which meant loose forwards and wings exploring the close ruck were due a P-Klap tackle…

    By the same token in 1998 when the Boks were 22-3 down with 10 minutes to go the fightback that won the game started with one of those Joost tries…

    Watch this

    1:10…. fucking classic classic classic Joost, especially hear the Kiwi commentators…

    Gives me goose bumps

  12. Look at the slowmo from 1:50, especially thge overhead shot and watch how he not only take the gap, BUT as the All Blacks try to close the gap he choose to run towards the space….


  13. Just following these tributes… not going to put all on but fokkit this guy was a sniper…

    At one stage his CC record was 50 tries in 75 games…

  14. Reply to Morné @ 7:31 am:

    Morne jy praat mos nou stront man. Joost kon baie goed altwee kante toe uitgee, kyk bietjie na die mooi videos wat Dawid geplaas het.Sy aangee was een van sy sterkpunte. Heng, na ek dit gekyk het twyfel ek glad nie meer dat Joost die beste was nie. Hy was selfs beter as wat ek hom onthou.

  15. Reply to Vetgesmeerde Blits @ 10:43 pm:

    “Could not pass to his right” was never meant to be interpreted that you will never see him pass to his right…

    Most right-handed players find it difficult to pass to their right, because your leading hand changes from your right hand to your left hand.

    For 9’s this is even more of an issue because you work with static ball and you have to pass accurately and with speed. If you have played scrummie for your school’s first team, you would have had a pretty decent pass to your ‘weak’ side let alone international level. But the tell-tale signs that you struggled with this would be seeing a scrummie dive-pass a lot only when he has to pass to his right, pass with under-spin (spinning the ball in the opposite direction than normal which creates a ‘drift’ effect on the ball) or passing around the corner (turning your back to the opposition so you effectively still pass right-handed).

    It does not mean this is the only way they pass, sometimes a normal left-handers pass will be made even if not most of the time but the scrummie won’t feel it being effective or strong enough and revert to these other passes from time-to-time.

    PS. Not to serve as justification, but many years ago passing were one of the things in rugby I had to analyze quite extensively. Passing changes from position to position a lot of times (the skills required and involved) even and my job was to identify this and document it. Passing was never more important for any other positions than your inside backs (9, 10 & 12) but most specifically, 9 – as this is where momentum or pace is created or maintained in play.

    This video above is legendary, by all means remember Joost for his unbelievable skills and talent because he had plenty and I do remember him for being one of the most influential Boks and scrummies of all time. I just don’t think he was the best, he had weaknesses in his play of which passing (to his right) was one.

    Never perfect because there is no such thing, FDP was the closest to flawless as they come. Where Joost was the best attacking and defending 9, FDP has the all-round game which allowed him to dictate plays from anywhere at any time.

    So all this might come down to what we even prefer personally, the ‘x-factor’ player or the guy that controlled everything.

  16. Forgetting Joost for a second and watching this video…

    Isn’t it amazing how many times Honiball receives the ball as first receiver and not some bloody forward?

    Sure he passes to forwards as second receivers at times but look at the difference it makes (passing them into space).

    It has been one of my bugbears for years now – let our flyhalves play and make plays! You will see a different backline.

  17. Reply to Morné @ 7:53 am:
    Very interesting summary and I understand what you meen by sruggeling to pass to the less prevered side. Having whatched these clips and a few others I think this weakness specifically in Joost’s case wasn’t a big problem as his passing to the right was still swift and accurate although it wasn’t as good as his past to the left.

    Joost definately wasn’t flawless and I do agree that Fourie is the more rounded player.

    Do you think Fourie grew into the tactical, controlling role because of the lack of dynamic flyhalfs in his era? A good example for me is Morne Steyn with and without Du Preez. Steyn(and the Boks) just aren’t the same without Fourie’s tactical game.

    But in the end I agree that the Du Preez, Joost argument comes down to personal preference. All I am saying is who needs to pass if you can score 38 test tries as a scrumhalf :support:

  18. Reply to Vetgesmeerde Blits @ 10:11 am:

    It is an interesting topic and one we discussed in the past here on RW.

    Like some, I believe unlike the rest of the world SA’s players that controlled games was not their 10’s, but rather their 9’s.

    The top 9’s in SA (before 2008) were all players who I believe could easily have played 10 given their skill set and mental approach.

    If we consider Joost, FDP, Pienaar, Kockett, Duvenhage, Neil de Kock, etc. they were all very dominant 9’s who controlled the game more than their 10’s OR who could easily play 10 (and some did).

    I do think this could be part of the reason we have not produced dominant 10’s in the last decade and more.

  19. Reply to Morné @ 10:21 am:
    It does make a lot of sense. Our no 9’s also seems to have a better kicking game than most other nations. I think the French is quite similar to us in this regard, they also prefer more tactical scrumhalfs and Parra and Yachvilli is great goalkickers too.

    Back to Du Preez, the poor guy’s Sprinbok career started with Jaco van der Westhuizen at flyhalf, and even Meyer Bosman in 2005. It’s no wonder he took so much responsibility upon himself wich he did with great success.

  20. I want to throw in another DU PREEZ:


    Only because I vaguely remember Joost saying
    that he based his game on Robert.

  21. Reply to Morné @ 8:26 am:

    One of Mallett’s big moans:
    No. 10 not being the game maker, but with a
    fat forward standing off.
    He moaned a lot about this during Morne’s
    tenure – lambasting the guy, but he is not
    always first receiver.

  22. Robert Du Preez was an outstanding player but he had a head weakness. He cracked under pressure.

    In particular in the 1989 Bok trials I recall him going up against EP and later Lions terrier Garth Wright. Garth was in the A and Du Preez in the B side.

    There was widespread idea that Wright was wrong and Du Preez ( Western Transvaler who first went to retoria and later Durban) should be the Bok #9.

    Wright simply applied incessant pressure on Du Preez and he ended up being a liability to the B side instead of being an asset and a challenger for Wright’s position. In those days there was no offside line at the scrum except the opposing scrummy had to stay “behind” the ball, so as long as the A side swung the scrum, Du Preez had to play with Wright at his ankles all day long (swinging was called wheeling in those days and was a 100% legal way to apply pressure at a scrum).

    Although I agree that Joost was a result of Tommie Du Plessis style of scrumhalf followed by Robert Du Preez and then Johan Roux, Joost was a more rounded scrummie than Robert Du Preez, in that he could actually handle playing under pressure behind a pack going backwards.

    Good memory Boertjie!

    And yes Joost did regard Robert Du Preez as his idol and the player he modelled himself on.

  23. Reply to Morné @ 8:26 am:

    thats the beauty is it not – and all i ask.

    also a big reason why i like the reds (especially with copper at 10) – the ball goes to 10 and he is supposed to make play.

    Far more exciting than fokken Willem Alberts

  24. Reply to The Year of the Cheetah @ 8:46 pm:

    I told you before, we (and I mean all of us) don’t differ much from what we want, or want to see the game being played.

    Where we differ, is how we get there.

    Simple example…

    PDV had the vision, he went about it fucking arsed about and tried to force it. He could have laid the platform (as Carel did imo in 1997) for greater things but he wanted ‘it’ too quickly.

    You know the thing about history… and how folks reckon it repeats itself…

    Compare Harry Viljoen – crazy fuck (according to most) who believed the Boks were better than crash-ballers and kick-chasers and what did we do when we fired him? Employed Mr. Conservative…

    Give ANY decent coach 4+ years and forget the fucking World Cup (I hate this thing) and we will revolutionize our game.

  25. Reply to Morné @ 9:51 pm:

    yes and no.

    Yes cause it makes sense. No because we both know Meyer does not play with a 10 at 10. That part of our game will not change.

    Pods work for him and a bok success rate of around 70% in his tenure will attest to this, but I sure as hell dont like watching it’.

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