JOHANNESBURG – The Lions suffered a major blow on the eve of their departure to Australia when captain Warren Whiteley had to withdraw from the side to play the Waratahs in a Super Rugby match in Sydney on Friday.
Whiteley, who has missed the last four weeks of action with a knee injury but was included in the 27-man squad for the four-match tour to Australia and New Zealand, hurt the same knee while running on Monday afternoon.
“He heard a click in the knee and it swelled up overnight,” explained Lions team doctor Rob Collins on Tuesday.
“At this stage it’s a precautionary measure, but Warren will do an MRI scan on Tuesday afternoon and also see an orthopaedic surgeon. There’s no need to rush this thing. He won’t face the Waratahs, but we’re uncertain at this stage for how long he will be out.”
Collins added Whiteley could be sidelined for anything from a few days to a few months, depending on the severity of the injury.
Coach Swys de Bruin said a decision on if, or when, Whiteley will join up with his team-mates in Sydney will be taken later.
In the captain’s absence Hacjivah Dayimani will run out at No 8 on Friday in a familiar looking team that shows no surprises. De Bruin though has opted to include Franco Mostert, who will again lead the side, on the flank with Marvin Orie and Andries Ferreira featuring in the second row.
On the bench there is also place for new recruit from Northampton, Nic Groom; the former Stormers man set to make his debut for his new team on Friday.
The Lions face the Waratahs, Reds, Highlanders and Hurricanes on tour. They leave South Africa on Tuesday night.
The revised Lions touring squad is:
Andries Coetzee, Ruan Combrinck, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Madosh Tambwe, Elton Jantjies, Dillon Smit, Hacjivah Dayimani, Franco Mostert, Kwagga Smith, Marvin Orie, Andries Ferreira, Ruan Dreyer, Malcolm Marx, Jacques van Rooyen. Replacements: Robbie Coetzee, Dylan Smith, Jacobie Adriaanse, Lourens Erasmus, Marnus Schoeman, Nic Groom, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Sylvian Mahuza