Etze­beth to lead the Boks in Europe

Cape Times - - SPORT - Jac­ques van der Westhuyzen

JO­HAN­NES­BURG: Reg­u­lar cap­tain War­ren White­ley re­mains in a bat­tle to re­cover from what the Spring­bok med­i­cal team are call­ing a “groin in­jury”, but it seems there is more wrong with the Li­ons No 8 than what ex­perts term a “sports­man’s groin”.

White­ley was yes­ter­day ruled out of the Boks’ end-ofyear tour to Europe just two weeks after the squad’s doc­tor, Kon­rad von Ha­gen, had said the loose for­ward was a real op­tion to play.

The 30-year-old hasn’t played rugby since June, when he with­drew from the third Test against France. Eben Etze­beth has cap­tained the Boks in White­ley’s ab­sence, a job the lock will again ful­fil when the team take on Ire­land, France, Italy and Wales.

The Boks said yes­ter­day that White­ley “is ex­pected to be out of ac­tion for two more months as a re­sult of his groin in­jury.”

It has, how­ever, been learned in re­cent days that there is more wrong with White­ley than his suf­fer­ing merely from a “sports­man’s groin” – loosely de­scribed as a her­nia in his pelvic and groin re­gion – and torn lig­a­ments in his pelvis.

White­ley has un­der­gone at least one surgery to help him get over the con­di­tion which has side­lined him, but it is un­der­stood that he con­sulted a dif­fer­ent spe­cial­ist last week, who has re-di­ag­nosed him. The Li­ons and the Boks weren’t will­ing to dis­cuss White­ley’s med­i­cal de­tails.

For now the Bok skip­per will have to con­tinue play­ing the wait­ing game and hope to be back in ac­tion when Su­per Rugby starts in Fe­bru­ary next year. While White­ley is un­able to take any phys­i­cal con­tact on the train­ing ground and even finds it dif­fi­cult to lift heavy ob­jects, he is said to be stay­ing fit by swim­ming.

Bok coach Al­lis­ter Coet­zee said that Etze­beth had im­pressed in a lead­er­ship role this sea­son. “Eben has taken to his role of cap­tain and it makes sense to re­tain him. I know he is well re­spected and he en­joys the re­spect of his peers.”

In some good news for the Boks though, prop Coe­nie Oosthuizen and loose for­ward Uzair Cassiem are in line to tour with their team­mates.

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