Powell honours 'childhood hero' Joost

Neil Powell (Gallo Images)
Neil Powell (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - It was the crack of dawn, but Neil Powell was at Cape Town International bright and early on Friday making his way to Pretoria to be a part of Joost van der Westhuizen's Loftus Versfeld memorial. 

Van der Westhuizen died on Monday following a long battle with motor neuron disease.

The service at Loftus will begin at 12:30. 

Accompanied by his wife Tanya, Powell - still just 38-years-old - told Sport24 how he used to try and "copy" Van der Westhuizen's game when he was younger. 

Powell, like Van der Westhuizen, was a scrumhalf, playing most prominently for Free State and the Blue Bulls. 

"Growing up he was one of my childhood heroes," Powell said.

"I looked up to him. Obviously, he played the same position I played. I always tried to copy him and do the same in my own game.

"I think just the character he had ... he had a massive fighting spirit and a never-say-die attitude.

"He would never surrender and that is something that I also strive for ... not just in my playing career but in my personal life as well.

"He’s one of the biggest that will ever wear the green and gold.

"He’s one of those players where you have him in your team you know he’s going to at least get you some points on the board scoring tries or even in defending he was just feisty. He didn’t care how big the guys were, he’d just make his tackles.

"He was an unbelievable rugby player and a legend of the game that will be remembered forever."

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