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Van der Westhuizen shows 'fighting spirit'

Press Association logoPress Association 5/02/2017

World Cup winner Joost van der Westhuizen's condition is improving as he receives hospital treatment.

The 45-year-old South Africa great has been living with motor neurone disease since 2011 and was admitted to a Johannesburg hospital on Saturday morning.

Statements from his J9 Foundation on Saturday evening and Sunday morning revealed he was in a "critical but stable" condition in an intensive care unit.

Sunday morning's update, though, added that he was "putting up an incredible fight" - and there was further encouragement later in the day.

A statement released around on the J9 Foundation's Facebook page read: "Joost has been much better today however he is tired and been resting this afternoon.

"Thank you for the continued support for him and his family."

The foundation was set up by Van der Westhuizen to aid people suffering from MND.

Van der Westhuizen is regarded as one of the finest halfbacks in rugby history, having won 89 caps for the Springboks between 1993 and 2003 and scored 38 tries, helping the team win the 1995 World Cup on home soil.

His estranged wife, singer Amor Vittone, wrote on her Facebook page on Saturday: "Joost, at this moment is still critical in hospital, but showing us all his fighting spirit!"

She and Van der Westhuizen have two children, son Jordan and daughter Kylie.

"Please keep him in your prayers and thank you for all the beautiful messages of encouragement. Jordan and Kylie have shown tremendous courage through this difficult time," Vittone added.

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