Rugby 26.9.2013 06:00 am

Stalwart back in Lions’ den

PERFECT TIMING. Warren Whiteley has recovered from a hip injury and has been selected at eighthman for the Lions' Currie Cup match against the Sharks at Ellis Park tomorrow night. Picture: Backpagepix

PERFECT TIMING. Warren Whiteley has recovered from a hip injury and has been selected at eighthman for the Lions' Currie Cup match against the Sharks at Ellis Park tomorrow night. Picture: Backpagepix

The return of Warren Whiteley will undoubtedly elicit loud cheers out of Doornfontein but, for Lions mentor Johan Ackermann, the news will probably also be greeted with a bit of trepidation.

Widely regarded as one of the more talismanic presences in the pack, his slot at the back of the scrum, as well as Willie Britz’ reappearance, represents a gradual augmentation of the Lions’ depth.

Yet Ackermann is all too aware of cruel twists of fate. “Their returns are perfectly timed,” said the genial former Springbok lock yesterday.

“Warren’s athleticism is the type of attribute that suits our approach perfectly and he brings experience with him.

“But we’ve been dogged by injuries this year that have tested our depth so I’m hopeful that it will stay away at this crucial part of the season.”

Even if the spectre of an injury blow hovers in the back of the mind, Ackermann’s more pressing issue is getting his troops to deliver a rounded performance against the Sharks at home tomorrow night.

Had it not been for their capriciousness throughout this campaign, they could easily have shaded the close encounters they’ve lost, but their coach is optimistic.

“Inconsistency has been a bit of a theme in this tournament overall,” he noted.

“I believe our win over the Bulls cultivated a sense of belief in elevating our game. We’ve worked hard this week on finally delivering a complete performance, but we won’t have it easy.”

 

 

 

 

 

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