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    Swys: I'll always back Whiteley as my leader

    2018-02-15 14:26

    Lloyd Burnard

    Cape 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 years. 

    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 years. 

    "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.

    Teams:

    Lions

    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 van Rooyen

    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

    Sharks

    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 Juan Schoeman

    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

     

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