Lions captain Warren Whiteley is driven back by Chris van Zyl at Newlands on Saturday. Photo: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency/ANA

JOHANNESBURG – The Lions breathed a sigh of relief on Monday evening when captain Warren Whiteley was cleared of any major damage to his pectoral area.

The Lions captain, though, will miss between six and eight weeks of Super Rugby action following his tearing his left pectoral muscle in the match against the Stormers at Newlands last Saturday.

Whiteley left the field before halftime, with his team going on to lose to the Cape Town-based side.

A scan on Monday morning didn’t reveal any damage, but an MRI later in the day showed that the No 8 had torn his left pec.

The good news is he doesn’t require surgery, which would have ruled him out of action for up to six months.

And while Whiteley will now miss a big chunk of the Super Rugby competition, he will recover in time to be considered for the Boks later this season, and ahead of the World Cup, which gets under way in Japan in September.

In his absence, coach Swys de Bruin will have to find a new team leader and No 8. Elton Jantjies, Marvin Orie, Kwagga Smith and even Ross Cronjé are the main contenders for the job.

Cronjé, who will in all likelihood return to the side this week after sitting on the sidelines since September with a shoulder problem, has captained the side regularly in the past and may be De Bruin’s first-choice man.

Jantjies, though, is the official vice-captain and Cronjé may not be ready just yet, even though he said last week he was a week or two away from playing again.

When Cronjé does return, it is likely to be from the bench.

Sorting out the back row could prove more problematic for the Lions coach.

Hacjivah Dayimani and Robert Kruger will be the favourites to play at No 8 this week as they’ve been training with the squad for weeks, and are fully fit, and even featured at some stage during the first two weeks of action.

However, the man De Bruin will want to see back in action is Cyle Brink, who has been sidelined since August last year.

Brink is comfortable in all three loose-forward positions, and will bring a hard edge to the Lions loose trio when he does return, which is expected to be in the next few weeks.

Brink has been sidelined since August, when a knee injury prevented him from making his Bok debut.

The Lions are looking to hit back against the Bulls this week when they play at home for the first time, while the men from Pretoria are smarting after getting a thumping from the Jaguares in Buenos Aires last weekend.

@jacq_west


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