The news that Springbok and Lions captain Warren Whiteley has been ruled out for six to eight weeks is a blow for South African rugby on two fronts – for franchise and country.
The inspirational skipper, who missed Saturday’s final Test against France at Ellis Park where South Africa completed a 3-0 series win, has sustained a torn ligament in his pelvis.
The injury will rule him out of the remainder of this year’s Super Rugby competition, and he is in a race against time to be fit for the Springboks’ opening Rugby Championship fixture against Argentina in Port Elizabeth on August 19.
The Lions have already won the South African conference with 12 wins from 13 matches in this year’s Super Rugby competition.
They have also secured a spot in the quarterfinals with group matches against the Sunwolves and Sharks to play before the knockout rounds.
The Lions will certainly miss Whiteley’s leadership and presence in their bid to go one better than last year’s runners-up spot.
Although the Springboks managed a win without him on Saturday, his solid leadership has been one of the main reasons for the national team’s revival.
Despite the gloom, reports from the Lions team doctor Rob Collins that Whiteley is “excellent when it comes to rehabilitation work” and “that if all goes well, he’ll be back before eight weeks” is certainly wonderful news for SA rugby fans.