Whiteley to lead Lions into rugby final

Injured Lions captain Warren Whiteley has been declared fit to play the Super Rugby grand final against the Hurricanes.

The No.8 and Lions captain will play his first match for the Johannesburg-based side since June, when he was injured in South Africa’s June Test against Ireland.

The side was otherwise unchanged from that which outclassed the Highlanders 42-30 in South Africa last week.

Star first-five Elton Jantjies resumes his position orchestrating the Lions attack, with Faf De Klerk in the halfback role.

Dylon Smith, Malcolm Marx and Julian Redelinghuys make up the Lions front row, while Jaco Kriel and Warwick Tecklenburg take their place as flankers.

The 28-year-old Whiteley earlier told reporters he felt privileged to be days from a grand final after his club was demoted from Super Rugby at the end of 2012.

“Standing here now, it probably is surprising if you think back,” Whiteley said.

“We’re extremely grateful to be here, the last three years have been incredible.”

The Springbok said he’d put in the hard yards to make Saturday’s final and be in with a shot of lifting the Super Rugby trophy for his side.

Producing a cool, calm and collected performance away from home would be key.

“We’ve learnt a lot in the last couple of years and we’re fortunate enough to have a lot of continuity in the squad,” Whiteley said.

“We’ve learnt how to make the best of hard tours and have fun.”

Lions: Andries Coetzee, Ruan Combrinck, Lionel Mapoe, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Courtnal Skosan, Elton Jantjies, Faf De Klerk, Warren Whiteley (c), Warwick Tecklenburg, Jaco Kriel, Franco Mostert, Andries Ferreira, Julian Redelinghuys, Malcolm Marx, Dylon Smith.

Reserves: Armand van der Merwe, Corne Fourie, Jacques van Rooyen, Lourens Erasmus, Ruan Ackermann, Ross Cronje, Howard Mnisi, Jaco van der Walt.

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