JOHANNESBURG – The struggling Lions need as much good news as they can get at the moment, and the return of two of their coaches, Swys de Bruin and Joey Mongalo, will certainly be a big boost.
Both men are expected back on the training ground from Monday when the side start their preparations proper for the Super Rugby match against the Waratahs next Saturday.
The Lions have a bye this week following their three-week trip to Australasia, which yielded one win – against the Chiefs.
De Bruin left the squad on the eve of that match – the second game of the tour – and returned to South Africa because of a “medical condition”, which was later said to be stress-related.
Mongalo, too, left the Lions squad on the eve of the Chiefs game after he was found guilty of indecent assault by a Sydney court.
The case stems from last year’s Lions tour, and while the squad were staying in a Sydney hotel.
Mongalo has been convicted and sentenced, but will appeal the finding later this year.
He returned to South Africa to face an internal hearing by the Lions, which took place last week.
The defence coach was found to have breached company policy, by bringing the company’s name into disrepute.
“The company has decided to proceed with the recommended sanction handed down by the independent labour consultant, which includes corrective disciplinary action and compulsory ethical and professional management training,” said a statement from the Lions.
It went on: “Legally, Mongalo maintains his innocence, and therefore continues to appeal the Australian Magistrate court ruling, and he continues to do so in his private capacity. He is scheduled to resume his duties on Monday.”
De Bruin, too, is said to be ready to step back into the head coach’s role following his setback of the last two weeks.
In his absence, and while he was said to be receiving professional help to deal with stress, regular conditioning coach Ivan van Rooyen took charge of the side.
“My players know what I am going through, and they support me fully,” said De Bruin days after returning to Joburg to seek help.
One player who won’t be part of the on-field training will be regular skipper Warren Whiteley, who will miss a good few weeks’ of action after hurting his knee in the match against the Chiefs.
It was his first game back after spending seven weeks on the sidelines with a chest muscle injury.
Injury Update@cylebrink: a mild strain of his knee, & should be ready for the next match@WarrenWhiteley: small cartilage tear in the knee, which will settle over the next few weeks.— Emirates Lions (@LionsRugbyCo) May 1, 2019
Sylvian Mahuza, has a LCL injury of his left knee, the medical team is investigating further. pic.twitter.com/UJxZr9tsZm
Whiteley has suffered an array of different injuries in the last three years, and he would have feared the worst after the Chiefs game – and just five months out from the Japan-based World Cup, with him being a strong contender for the 31-man squad.
The good news though is he will only miss a few weeks of action after it was found that he’d torn some cartilage in his knee, which the Lions management team hope will settle over the next few weeks.
His Super Rugby campaign may well be over, though, with the Lions having just six round-robin games left to play.
The Lions are expected to provide more clarity on De Bruin’s return to the team on Friday.@jacq_west