JOHANNESBURG - Finally! After months on the sidelines with a troublesome knee problem, Springbok No 8 and Lions captain Warren Whiteley will return to action this weekend.
Whiteley will captain a strong Golden Lions side against the Blue Bulls in a SuperSport Challenge match in Longdale, Joburg on Sunday. In all, six Springboks are in the side, which also sees Malcolm Marx return from a month out of the game. The other men who’ll be in action who have played for the Boks before are Ruan Combrinck, Lionel Mapoe, Courtnall Skosan and Ross Cronje. Also, Cyle Brink is back in the mix after hurting a nerve in his neck in late May, while Howard Mnisi and Madosh Tambwe are also in the team.
Whiteley has battled to shake off a knee injury picked up in early March and has also missed out on the Test series against England. He is, however, expected to return to the national team for the Rugby Championship, injury permitting. Marx - who would have been the first choice hooker in coach Rassie Erasmus’ Bok team against England - has recovered fully from a shoulder problem picked up while on tour with the Lions at the beginning of May.
“After the break for international rugby we welcome the opportunity to give our Super Rugby players game time and to ensure our preparation is on track to return to the competition next week,” said Lions CEO Rudolf Straeuli. “Our Junior Boks are also back in training (after featuring at the World Rugby U-20 Championships), but we have decided to rest them this week. They’ll come into the selection picture next week.”
Injury Update: @Rohanjvr12 underwent an operation on Fri 15/6 to repair a fractured cartilage within the ankle joint as well as a high grade syndesmosis injury. He will be out for approximately 4 months.@WarrenWhiteley & @M_marxi2 are both available for selection this week. pic.twitter.com/APsQx6oMRx
The Lions return to Super Rugby action next weekend with an away fixture against the Sharks in Durban. Head coach Swys de Bruin - who is currently working with the Boks as an attack consultant - will also be able to consider wing Aphiwe Dyantyi, flyhalf Elton Jantjies and lock Franco Mostert.
One of the Junior Boks who could get a look-in for the Sharks game is utility back Wandisile Simelane, who De Bruin might consider ahead of Dyantyi, who will play a third straight Test for the Boks on Saturday. Burly centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg is sidelined with an injury and is unlikely to feature again in Super Rugby this year, while fullback Andries Coetzee was not considered for this Sunday’s game.
Lions team: Ruan Combrinck, Madosh Tambwe, Lionel Mapoe, Howard Mnisi, Courtnall Skosan, Shaun Reynolds, Ross Cronje, Warren Whiteley (capt), Cyle Brink, James Venter, Rhyno Herbst, Robert Kruger, Johannes Jonker, Malcolm Marx, Sti Sithole. Replacements: Corne Fourie, Jacques van Rooyen, Vincent Tshituka, Hacjivah Dayimani, Dillon Smit, Ashlon Davids, Jan-Louis la Grange.