Boks and Lions sweat over Whiteley injury
REACTION: The Springboks and Lions will be sweating over the groin injury that kept No.8 Warren Whiteley out of the third Test against France at the weekend.
South African coach Allister Coetzee, speaking after the 35-12 win over the French at Ellis Park, said Whiteley's groin injury has been a 'bit of a niggle' throughout the June series.
"He was managed properly throughout this campaign," the Bok coach said, adding that the Bok skipper "landed awkwardly" in a line-out session this past week.
"[This past] Friday we sent him for a scan and there was a little tear.
"We didn't want to risk him any further. Sometimes a medical team might use other methods [cortisone injections] to get the player to play.
"It was a no-brainer to keep Warren on the sideline."
Coetzee said Whiteley will be assessed on Monday again and, in consultation with the medical team of the Lions, a decision will be taken about his recovery period.
It is almost certain he will miss the Lions' Super Rugby Round 15 encounter with the Sunwolves in Johannesburg this coming Saturday, July 1, and is also doubtful for the crucial encounter with the Sharks in Durban a fortnight later.
Monday's scans will determine if he will still be on the doubtful list when the Boks start their Rugby Championship campaign against Argentina in August.
Coetzee said he was proud of how his team coped with the setback of losing their captain.
"Losing the captain on a Friday, having a stand-in captain and then defend our line and keep France tryless, that is massive step in the right direction for all of us," the coach said.
"We believe that this team consists of a squad of 31 and this was tested this week, but I am happy that our belief was justified.
"All 31 players worked hard for this result.
"Losing Warren was not easy, but our core leadership group was awesome in the last couple of days.
"This was a huge step in the right direction for us."
He admitted it was probably the Boks' worst performance of the series, but also showed the team's character.
"Test match rugby is always about winning, not about being pretty," he said.
"We did not execute as well as we wanted to, but the courage of the team was great."
The coach attributed the change in fortunes to better preparations and the buy-in of all coaches.
"Our preparation time was so much better this year and our training camps were essential. The Plettenberg Bay camp did wonders. We have great rugby players and now that we have a shared value system, we are showing that. The motivation comes from within."
By Jan de Koning, at Ellis Park