CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — Tinus Linee, a former South Africa center, died Monday after suffering from motor neuron disease, the Western Province rugby union said. He was 45.

Linee played nine tour matches for the Springboks in Australia, Wales, Scotland and Ireland from 1993-94. He never played a full test, but made more than 100 appearances for his Cape Town-based Western Province provincial team between 1992 and 2001. He was renowned as a tough defender who made bone-crunching tackles.

Linee was diagnosed with motor neuron disease last year.

"Tinus fought a very brave battle against a dreadful disease and his tenacity and guts will always be remembered — as a rugby player and during the past 18 months," WPRFU President Thelo Wakefield said in a statement announcing Linee's death.

Joost van der Westhuizen, a South African rugby great and 1995 World Cup winner who also has motor neuron disease, offered his condolences.

"Sad day for Rugby in SA," Van der Westhuizen wrote on Twitter. "Just received news of the passing of a rugby legend and MND Warrior Tinus Linee RIP my friend."

Van der Westhuizen, who once held the South African record for test tries and appearances, was diagnosed with motor neuron disease in 2011.