Cape Town - Springbok captain Warren Whiteley is expected to return to the playing field in December.
Whiteley has been sidelined with a groin injury since June, but according to the Lions’ team doctor Rob Collins, he is making good progress and will be able to start jogging over the next few weeks
Collins told Netwerk24 that the chances are good that Whiteley could return to action for his Japanese club in early or mid-December.
“There is however no chance that he’ll be able to form part of the Springbok’s year-end tour to Europe,” Collins said.
Collins described Whiteley’s injury as a “unique one” consisting of four problem areas within his hip.
“It’s now only a nerve affecting the muscles that needs to be sorted out. But that nerve is starting to heal nicely and he should be ready to play in less than two months.”
Whiteley represents the NTT Docomo-Red Hurricanes during the South African off-season, but will return in time for the Lions’ Super Rugby campaign.
With Whiteley out of international duty, lock Eben Etzebeth will lead the Springboks on their year-end tour.
The No 4 lock took over the leadership duties at the end of June when Whiteley was forced to withdraw on the eve of the third Test against France in Johannesburg. Etzebeth has subsequently led the Springboks in all six Rugby Championship Test matches.
Springbok coach Allister Coetzee earlier this month said Etzebeth had been impressive in the new leadership role so far this season: “Eben has really taken to his role as captain of the Springboks and it makes sense to retain him. I know he is well respected by talking to opposition coaches and referees, and he enjoys the respect of his peers.”
Coetzee added that Etzebeth was supported by a strong leadership group.
“With Eben at the helm for the tour, we are looking forward to continue our process of building continuity, cohesion and experience within this team as we also start to build towards the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.”
South Africa’s opponents during their month-long European tour are Ireland (November 11, Dublin), France (November 18, Paris), Italy (November 25, Padova) and Wales (December 2, Cardiff).