JOHANNESBURG - Lions team doctor Rob Collins has said no one is to blame for Warren Whiteley suffering a torn ligament in his pelvis - also known as sportsman’s groin - which will see him miss the rest of the 2017 Super Rugby season.
“It’s not a normal rugby injury, but any athlete that does a lot of running can get it,” said Collins yesterday.
“It’s obviously been worn for a while and now it’s torn. It’s really unfortunate, but no one is to blame, nobody did anything wrong.
“The good news is Warren is excellent when it comes to rehabilitation work. He’s one of the most professional guys I’ve dealt with regarding this sort of thing, so, if all goes well, he’ll be back before eight weeks.”
Collins stated Whiteley’s recovery would take between six and eight weeks, depending on how well and quickly the Lions captain heals. “No operation is required ... it’s virtually impossible to operate there anyway, so we’ll try strengthen the muscles around the ligament, allow it to settle and heal itself.”
The 29-year-old, who recently lead the Springboks to a 3-0 series win against France, will now miss the rest of the Super Rugby campaign.
He’ll sit out the remaining round-robin fixtures against the Sunwolves (this Saturday) and the Sharks (July 15), as well as the knockout rounds. The Lions have a bye on the weekend of July 8.
It’s a bitter blow to Whiteley and his team, who are well set to again contest strongly in the latter stages of the Super Rugby tournament.
They are already the SA Conference winners, having won 12 of 13 games and have also secured a spot in the quarter-finals. The Lions will be hoping to go all the way this year after losing in the final, against the Hurricanes, last season.
In the run-up to that game, in a wet Wellington, Whiteley missed the semi-final against the Highlanders after picking up a calf injury the week before in the quarter-finals against the Crusaders.
Following that tournament, Whiteley went straight into the Bok squad for the Rugby Championship and then left South African shores in late October to take up a contract with Japanese club, NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes.
He returned to South Africa early in the year, went straight into Super Rugby and before the June break had started every one of the 13 Lions games this season, totalling 991 minutes played out of 1040. No Lions forward played as much as Whiteley did before the June break, with Franco Mostert next, clocking 923 minutes.
It was then straight into the Bok set-up where Whiteley spent three weeks on the training ground and featuring in the Pretoria and Durban Tests, before falling awkwardly and hurting himself on the eve of the Joburg Test.
Collins said he expected Whiteley to make a good and strong recovery, in time to lead the Boks in their first Rugby Championship match of the year, against Argentina in Port Elizabeth on August 19.
In his absence, the Lions’ captaincy duties are likely to be shared between Jaco Kriel and Ross Cronje. The scrumhalf missed the third Test against France but has been cleared of concussion and will be back in the No 9 jersey this weekend. All the other Lions involved with the Boks and SA “A” sides this month are well and available to either play Super Rugby or SuperSport Challenge rugby.
* Meanwhile, in some good news for the Lions, centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg is back in training after hurting his knee and undergoing an operation in mid-April. The explosive inside centre will potentially come into the selection mix after the Lions’ bye next weekend, meaning he may be available for the playoffs.
“He was out of action for quite a while so while he has been cleared to play by the medical team, he still has to be cleared by the conditioning team,” said Collins.