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Rugby | Springboks

Whiteley to be assessed on Monday

Springbok skipper Warren Whiteley will know on Monday whether the groin tear that kept him out of Saturday’s final test against France could impact on him leading the Lions in the business end of Super Rugby or captaining the national team in the Rugby Championship that comes after that.

Whiteley was withdrawn on the day of the game and Eben Etzebeth took the reins in the 35-12 win that completed a 3-0 series rout of France. Etzebeth, the Stormers lock, described it as the best day of his life and appeared to really enjoy the experience, but Coetzee explained that there was never any question who would lead the team if Whiteley was injured.

“Warren has been struggling with a bit of a groin strain for a while. We decided to give him as much time as possible to be declared fit, but then he landed awkwardly in a lineout session,” said Coetzee.

“We sent him for a scan and did a little sonar that revealed that has a little tear. We didn’t want to risk him. Sometimes you use a medical team to patch up a player and make it possible for him to get through a game, but we decided it wasn’t worth the risk. The team consists of 31 players and the whole week Warren did not train with the team, so it wasn’t a big disruption for us.

“I was proud of the way the team coped under pressure. Even was vice-captain so everyone knew who would take over when Warren is out. We don’t know at this stage how serious the injury to Warren is. He will be assessed on Monday and a decision will be taken together with the medical team of the Lions.”

Etzebeth said that he knew he was leading the team 24 hours before kick-off and he described it as the best day of his life.

“Welcome to the best day of my life,” grinned the newest addition to the Bok captaincy ranks at the post-match press conference.

“The last 24 hours have been unbelievable and very exciting for me. Warren was outstanding in the last few weeks, so it was difficult taking over from him, but I had leaders like Siya (Kolisi) and Beast (Mtawarira) backing me. Everyone is a captain in his own position, so it was easy for me to take over.

“There has been great preparation this year and that has built up a feeling of brotherhood in the team. I would say that the last three weeks have been the best three weeks with the Springboks for me.”

The Boks struggled in several areas at Emirates Airlines Park, not the least of them being the lineouts, which are Etzebeth’s field of expertise. However, the lock was taking a philosophical outlook to the problem area.

“The lineouts were not as good as they were previously but we still won. We will have to work on the lineouts for the Rugby Championships. Maybe there were execution errors from us that we can rectify before the Championships. We know we can step it up.”


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