JOHANNESBURG, April 16 (Reuters) - Warren Whiteley will resume the captaincy of the Lions when they take on the Waikato Chiefs in Super Rugby on Friday after being sidelined for seven weeks with injury.
Whiteley suffered a pectoralis major muscle tear against the Stormers in Cape Town on Feb. 23 and has missed six matches since, including last Saturday’s 31-20 defeat by the ACT Brumbies as the Lions began a three-match tour Down Under.
The former Springbok captain, 31, flew to New Zealand to join up with the rest of the squad on Sunday after passing a fitness test last Friday.
His return will come as major boost to the Lions, who were runners-up in the last three Super Rugby competitions but have proven inconsistent this year with four wins and four defeats and sit at the bottom of the South African conference.
Coach Swys de Bruin has rotated several positions for Friday’s match in Hamilton, with Gianni Lombard replacing Elton Jantjies at flyhalf and Ross Cronje taking over from Nic Groom at scrumhalf.
Springbok hooker Malcolm Marx is rested, part of a nationwide policy to ensure all World Cup bound players are not over used in the Super Rugby competition, as is fullback Andries Coetzee.
The Johannesburg-based Lions play top of the table Canterbury Crusaders on Friday April 26 before returning home for the remainder of their regular season fixtures. (Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Christian Radnedge)