WHITE­LEY IN­JURY NO CAUSE FOR CON­CERN

Mean­while, ex­plo­sive cen­tre is back at train­ing and in the se­lec­tion mix for Lions

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - JAC­QUES VAN DER WESTHUYZEN

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.

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