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Swys de Bruin © Gallo Images

Challenge for Lions after losing Whiteley

The Emirates Lions will face a host of challenges this coming week, not least in the captaincy department after their inspirational leader Warren Whiteley was ruled out of action for four weeks with a PCL injury.

Whiteley limped off the field after only 20 minutes as his side blew a 28-10 lead to go down 38-35 after an incredible comeback by the Blues in the final minutes of the game to lose their unbeaten record.

Now the team will need to find a new captain ahead of this weekend’s game against the Sunwolves, and cope with the loss of not one, but two of their regular leadership corps.

There was hope that Jaco Kriel, who has captained the side in the past, would be able to return to action soon but last week that was dashed as the Springbok flanker underwent a second shoulder operation that will see him on the sidelines for another six months.

And now with Whiteley out, coach Swys de Bruin has to do without two of his most influential players on the field.

Whiteley’s calming influence was absent in those last 20 minutes on Saturday, a period of play that Lions fans have come to see the team pull away from opposition and the composure that wasn’t there in the helter skelter of that period is a worrying factor for De Bruin.

It seems Ross Cronje took over the captaincy in Whiteley’s absence, and this may be an indication that the Bok scrumhalf may well lead the team into action on Saturday, although there are a number of other candidates that can also step up to the captaincy role.

Whiteley seemed confident on Saturday that the injury wasn’t too serious and it may be that he returns a week or so earlier than expected, but his absence is a loss for the team all round.

De Bruin, to his credit, didn’t use the loss of Whiteley so early on as an excuse for the team’s loss.

“It is a setback, Warren is a one of a kind and a fantastic leader but the other guys in the squad must stand up. The whole squad is filled with Springboks, there are a lot of leaders in the team. It is a game of contact and that is no excuse,” De Bruin said.

Whiteley said after the game that he didn’t think the injury was too serious.

“I am walking fine and there is no pain, it just feels a bit unstable. Doc said he can feel that my PCL is loose so hopefully a few weeks,” he said.

Still the Lions will need to dig deep without Whiteley and Kriel, and the way they respond will not only say a lot about the depth in the side, but also give an indication of just how serious their championship aspirations are this year.


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