JOHANNESBURG – If everything goes according to plan Warren Whiteley will return to action for the Lions in this year’s Currie Cup competition - in his bid to prove his fitness ahead of the World Cup starting in September.
The tall No 8 played four games this year as chest and knee injuries ruled him out of most of the Super Rugby competition. He has not been selected to take part in the Bok planning and assessment camp currently on the go in Pretoria, ahead of the international season.
The highly regarded and experienced Whiteley could well lead the Lions then when they kick off their Currie Cup campaign in 16 days’ time against the Pumas at Ellis Park, but who will make up the rest of the Lions team is anyone’s guess.
Five Lions players - Aphiwe Dyantyi, Elton Jantjies, Kwagga Smith, Marvin Orie and Malcolm Marx - are in the Bok planning camp and could be involved in the shortened Rugby Championship next month and in August, which would curtail their involvement in the Currie Cup, while several other players' futures in the red and white are uncertain.
The Lions were supposed to name their Currie Cup squad and management team today but postponed the announcement because they were “still very busy finalising the Currie Cup management, squad and player movement”.
Who will run out in the Currie Cup is uncertain because for some time there have been questions about the continued involvement of men like Nic Groom, Dillon Smit, Lourens Erasmus, Ruan Combrinck, Sylvian Mahuza and Lionel Mapoe. These and other players may or may not be lost to the Lions permanently or for the rest of the year.
One player the Lions will be desperate to hang on to is tighthead prop Carlu Sadie, who joined the Lions from the Stormers as a loan player at the start of the year. His quality performances in Super Rugby have made him a much sought-after man and it is understood the Lions are keen to make his move to Joburg permanent. The men in the Cape though are believed to also be keen to get him back.
With regards the coaching team, the Lions look set to again be led by regular conditioning coach Ivan van Rooyen, who did the job last year as well when Super Rugby boss Swys de Bruin was on Springbok duty. De Bruin is with the Boks in Pretoria and is expected to be one of Rassie Erasmus’ right-hand men from now until the World Cup.
Who Van Rooyen’s assistants will be is anyone’s guess at this stage, but expect Phillip Lemmer, Neil de Bruin and Julian Redelinghuys to feature.@jacq_west