May 8, 2019 / 9:22 AM / 17 days ago

Whiteley still on the sidelines in blow to Lions

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Lions captain Warren Whiteley will be out for another fortnight at least as the Super Rugby team’s inspirational leader continues a long-standing battle with injury, handing his struggling team another blow.

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Rugby Championship - New Zealand vs South Africa - Wellington Regional Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand - September 15, 2018 - South Africa's Warren Whiteley is tackled by New Zealand's Aaron Smith. REUTERS/Ross Setford

A knee injury, sustained against the Waikato Chiefs last month, is the latest setback for the former Springbok captain who also missed the early part of the season with a pectoral muscle tear.

The 31-year-old loose forward will sit out on Saturday when the Lions, bottom of the South African conference, host the New South Wales Waratahs in Johannesburg after a week off with a bye.

“Warren is a huge leader, even off the field, and one thing people don’t realise is his work rate off the ball,” teammate Ross Cronje said ahead of Saturday’s clash at Ellis Park.

“He is organising, he is talking on the field and his leadership is incredible. He’s one helluva rugby player.

“After a game, I don’t know how he gets up the next morning.

“The work that he gets through, you do miss that. We have guys who can fill in, but there’s no fitter rugby player that I know of in this country.”

Whiteley was named South Africa captain in 2017 but was injured after just two tests as skipper against France and sidelined for the next six months with a groin injury.

On his return in early 2018 he suffered a knee injury that ruled him out of most of the Super Rugby season and kept him out of more tests, seeing Siya Kolisi take over as Bok skipper.

Whiteley returned to lead the Lions in a third successive Super Rugby final last August and then played for Springboks in the Rugby Championship, before his latest round of injuries.

Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly

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