Cape Town - Springbok and Lions captain Warren Whiteley is slowly but surely regaining his fitness.
A hip injury kept the No 8 sidelined for six months last year, with Eben Etzebeth taking over the Springbok captaincy in his absence.
Whiteley’s last Test was the 37-15 win in the second Test over France in Durban last June.
The 30-year-old is currently playing club rugby in Japan, but will return in time for the Lions’ 2018 Super Rugby campaign.
Lions coach Swys de Bruin says Whiteley has already featured in two games for his Japanese club, the Docomo Red Hurricanes.
“I had two brief conversations with him, but he is very positive. He played about 20 minutes before Christmas and played a full game this past weekend,” De Bruin told Netwerk24.
The Lions skipper is expected to return to Johannesburg at the end of the month - in time for their warm-up game against the Bulls at Ellis Park on January 27.
The Lions open their Super Rugby campaign at home against the Sharks on February 17.