Town - It is not yet clear who the Springbok captain will be for 2018, but one certainty
is that Warren Whiteley will be the
man to lead the Lions through Super Rugby.
Coach Swys de Bruin, who revealed his first side of the year on Thursday
ahead of Saturday's clash against the Sharks in Johannesburg, has made that
much abundantly clear.
Whiteley, who was named Allister
Coetzee's Springbok captain for 2017, injured his groin on the eve of the third
and final Test against France in Johannesburg.
It would be enough to keep him
out for the rest of the year and, in addition to being forced into giving up
the national captaincy as Eben Etzebeth stepped in, Whiteley was also robbed of
the chance to lead the Lions to their second Super Rugby final in as many
Instead, the 30-year-old looked
on at Ellis Park as his side fell 25-17 to the Crusaders on August 5.
Whiteley is back now, though, and
there are few men more relieved than De Bruin, who takes the reins as head
coach for the first time after serving as Johan Ackerman's assistant for five
"Wherever I go in the world
I will always back Warren as my leader," De Bruin told Sport24
emphatically this week.
"He is a fantastic player
and we are so lucky to have him.
"Even when he was out
injured he was such a motivation to the players. He is so keen to get going and
we're delighted to have him back."
With Duane Vermeulen expected to
be back in the Springbok mix this year, Whiteley will have a lot to prove as
Rassie Erasmus plots the way forward for the national side.
Kick-off between the Lions and
Sharks on Saturday is at 17:15.
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Sylvian
Mahuza, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Elton
Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Kwagga
Smith, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques
Substitutes: 16 Robbie Coetzee,
17 Dylan Smith, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Marnus Schoeman, 21
Hacjivah Dayimani, 22 Howard Mnisi, 23 Rohan Janse van Rensburg
15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13
Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Robert du Preez, 9
Cameron Wright, 8 Keegan Daniel, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5
Stephan Lewies, 4 Ruan Botha (captain), 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Franco Marais, 1
Substitutes: 16 Akker van der
Merwe, 17 John-Hubert Meyer, 18 Tendai Mtawarira, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Daniel
du Preez, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Curwin Bosch, 23 Kobus van Wyk