JOHANNESBURG – Will he or won’t he?
That is the big question around Lions No 8 Warren Whiteley playing against the Blue Bulls in a round five Currie Cup match at Ellis Park this weekend.
Whiteley’s name did not appear on a list of injured players sent out by the Lions yesterday afternoon, but that does not necessarily mean he is fit and ready to play again. The loose-forward has struggled with injuries this year but his name has hardly ever appeared on an injury list - whether as being available to play, or not.
The inspirational leader had targeted this weekend’s match as his possible comeback game after spending several weeks on the sidelines with a knee injury, in an effort to prove his fitness ahead of the Rugby World Cup squad announcement later this month.
Whiteley said a few weeks ago he hoped to be fit to play against the Bulls and then also, hopefully, for the Boks in next week’s Test against Argentina at Loftus Versfeld.
It has been learned though that Whiteley may not be ready to return to action - unlike his Western Province loose-forward counterpart, Siya Kolisi, who seems to be healed after his knee injury and is set to play this Friday evening.
Whiteley has had a difficult year with injuries.
His first setback this year (a pectoral muscle injury) came in round two of the Super Rugby competition, which ruled him out for several weeks, but he returned at the midway point to lead the side to a famous win against the Chiefs in New Zealand.
He, however, picked up a knee problem in that game, which again resulted in him being sidelined, but played again against the Waratahs in May. His knee problem flared up, however, and he has been sidelined ever since.
The loose-forward is almost sure to make the call around his fitness and readiness himself later this week.
Also still unavailable for the Lions, who have three wins from three games in this year’s Currie Cup, are experienced campaigners Cyle Brink, Courtnall Skosan and Dylan Smith. They’re all expected back in action in three to four weeks’ time, which would be in the play-offs, if the Lions went that far.
Also sidelined are centres Wayne van der Bank and Jan-Louis la Grange and prop Jacobie Adriaanse.
Coach Ivan van Rooyen will therefore be looking for a new centre partner for Wandisile Simelane, with Manuel Rass, who replaced La Grange in the match against the Cheetahs last Friday, the favourite to don the No 12 jersey this weekend.@jacq_west