Warren Whiteley, Springbok captain in two tests and inspirational leader of the Lions who took them to two of three consecutive Super Rugby finals, has recovered from his knee injury sustained in the win against the Chiefs three weeks ago.
He will lead the Lions against the Waratahs at Ellis Park on Saturday (15:05) with Springboks Malcolm Marx (rested) and Courtnall Skosan (father’s illness) also back in the team.
The return of top centre Harold Vorster, who for some obscure reason other than injury wasn’t part of the backline in recent times, is another boost for the Lions.
Whiteley, like so many other players who did a stint in Japan after last year’s South African rugby commitments and before the start of the Super Rugby competition, also sat out the early part of the 2019 season with a pectoral muscle tear.
He has been through a horrendous series and time of injuries, as can be seen below.
Warren’s spate of injuries started in 2017 when, after his first two test captaincies, he had to cry off shortly before the third test against France. He missed the 2017 Super Rugby playoffs due to injury, with Jaco Kriel taking over as captain of the Lions.
Whiteley went on to miss the entirety of the remaining 2017 with a torn ligament in his pelvis, known as ‘sportsman’s groin’.
Whiteley returned in the opening match of the Super Rugby tournament for the Lions but sustained a knee injury against the Blues in early March.
The injury ruled him out of most of the Super Rugby season and kept him out of more tests, and Siya Kolisi took over as Bok skipper with Whiteley’s successor as captain, Eben Etzebeth, also injured.
Whiteley returned to lead the Lions in a third successive Super Rugby final last August and then played for the Springboks in the 2018 Rugby Championship
He was however again injured, before the September test against the Wallabies, and played in only four of the six Rugby Championship tests, returned for the test matches against England and France. Then he missed the tests against Scotland and Wales on the out-going tour with a calf problem.
And now he has just returned from a second injury this season...
Lions vs Waratahs (15:05)
Andries Coetzee, Courtnall Skosan, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Elton Jantjies, Ross Cronjé, Warren Whiteley (captain), Vincent Tshituka, Kwagga Smith, Marvin Orie, Stephan Lewies, Carlu Sadie, Malcolm Marx, Sti Sithole. Replacements: Jan-Henning Campher, Dylan Smith, Johannes Jonker, Wilhelm van der Sluys, Marnus Schoeman, Nic Groom, Shaun Reynolds, Tyrone Green.
SuperSport Rugby Challenge (12:00)
James Venter will lead the Golden Lions XV against the Valke in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge at Ellis Park on Saturday.
The Lions are second on the log and have scored 14 tries in their three games, the second highest in the competition.
Golden Lions XV
Ruan Combrinck, Madosh Tambwe, Franco Naude, Hacjivah Dayimani, Stean Pienaar, Jeanluc Cilliers, Dillon Smit, Jo-Hanko de Villiers, James Venter (captain), Reinhard Nothnagel, Ruben Schoeman, Keagan Glade, Robbie Coetzee, Nathan McBeth. Replacements: Pieter Jansen, Danie Mienie, Travis Gordon, Mandisi Mthiyane, Bradley Thain, Yanga Hlalu, Kennedy Mpeku.