mage one - Geoff Whyte (CEO Nando’s Southern Africa), Joost Van Der Westhuizen (Former Springbok rugby player), Gavin Varejes (President of the South African Rugby Legends Association) Picture:Supplied

Johannesburg - “Joost, if you’re not eating at home, eat at Nando’s.” This was the jibe by Nando’s at Joost van der Westhuizen after his sex tape with a prostitute went viral in 2009.

But the former Bok captain has kissed and made up with Nando’s.

This week the chicken house released a new print ad recognising the once world number one scrumhalf for his remarkable work supporting people with Motor Neuron Disease (MND).

Van der Westhuizen first became famous as one of the best Springboks South Africa has ever produced, but after retiring from the game he made headlines for different reasons.

Then, two years later, the country was shocked to learn that Van der Westhuizen had been diagnosed with MND. Meanwhile, as a result of the sex tape, his marriage to singer Amor Vittone had also collapsed.

“The man himself responded with selfless courage, however, forming the J9 foundation to support those who also suffer from the illness. The difference Joost has personally made since then to the lives of those living with the disease, their families and caregivers has made him an even greater hero among the people of South Africa,” said Nando’s chief executive Geoff Whyte.

Nando’s this week gave Van der Westhuizen a framed copy of the print ad recognising his charitable work and made a donation of R100 000 to his J9 foundation. “We made a couple of jokes at Joost’s expense a few years back but have been incredibly impressed by the way he has bounced back from his personal and health problems to make a huge difference to the lives of so many MND sufferers,” said Whyte.

“We thought it was right to honour both his personal courage and achievement, and remind the country that Joost has now earned the status of legend for a second time.

“That’s why, at Nando’s, number nine will always be our number one.”

Meanwhile, Vittone admitted in YOU magazine this week that she missed the love she once shared with Van der Westhuizen, and revealed how she was coping in the shadow of death.

She told how she had been diagnosed with depression and anxiety after her marriage ended.

“I had to summon the courage to see a psychiatrist,” the singer said candidly.

“But now I know that acknowledging I’m prone to depression and that things just became too much for me doesn’t make me weak or less of a mother.”

Saturday Star