The Lions happy to welcome back influential captain Warren Whiteley

The Emirates Lions captain Warren Whiteley was cleared on Friday morning by the medical team and joins the team on their Australasia tour.
The Emirates Lions captain Warren Whiteley was cleared on Friday morning by the medical team and joins the team on their Australasia tour.
Image: The Lions/Twitter

With their cavalry almost back in tact‚ the Lions go in search of a win that could have restorative spin-offs for their Super Rugby campaign.

They can do with a shot in the arm.

Inconsistency has left their campaign precariously placed following four wins and as many defeats.

Two of those defeats were suffered at home and while they secured a maiden win in Buenos Aires the Lions now need to play catch up on the road.

Last week’s defeat to the Brumbies would have stung as it was a genuine opportunity for them to partly claw back what had been lost.

In the Chiefs they face a side‚ who with three consecutive wins‚ appear to be regaining their mojo after a poor start to the season.

Significantly however‚ the hosts will be without Brodie Retallick and Damian McKenzie‚ the team’s piano mover and player respectively.

The Lions by contrast will welcome back influential captain Warren Whiteley who has been sorely missed since the second week of the competition.

From the moment he left the field against the Stormers the Lions’ nose has pointed downwards.

After Whiteley went off against the Stormers the Lions relinquished their lead and defeats to the Bulls‚ the Sharks and the Brumbies followed.

To suggest that he is crucial to their fortunes would be an understatement.

He takes back his No8 jersey this week‚ but on the side of the scrum the equally impactful Kwagga Smith also returns after recovering from injury.

Smith had been plugging various holes in the backrow after Whiteley got injured but they now form a largely familiar backrow combination with Cyle Brink‚ who also recently returned to the playing surface.

The performance of the Lions’ backrow will be crucial to the outcome of this match.

Whiteley’s cool‚ level headed leadership‚ Smith’s ability to keep on muscling and motoring‚ as well as Brink’s gainline busting surges will be crucial to the Lions’ cause.

At the back eyes will largely be trained on rookie flyhalf Gianni Lombard.

The former Boland prodigy has shown glimpses of his vast talent but he will get a proper opportunity to showcase what he is made of against the Chiefs.

The Lions have Elton Jantjies on the bench‚ and they have the reassuring presence of Malcolm Marx there too.

Question is whether they’ll come on to consolidate or swing the match.

Teams

Chiefs - Jack Debreczeni; Sean Wainui‚ Alex Nankivell‚ Anton Lienert-Brown‚ Ataata Moeakiola; Marty McKenzie‚ Brad Weber (captain); Taleni Seu‚ Lachlan Boshier‚ Luke Jacobson; Mitchell Brown‚ Tyler Ardron; Nepo Laulala‚ Liam Polwart‚ Angus Ta'avao.

Substitutes: Samisoni Taukei'aho‚ Atu Moli‚ Sosefo Kautai‚ Jesse Parete‚ Pita Gus Sowakula‚ Jonathan Taumateine‚ Tumua Manu‚ Shaun Stevenson.

Lions - Andries Coetzee; Sylvian Mahuza‚ Lionel Mapoe‚ Franco Naude‚ Aphiwe Dyantyi; Gianni Lombard‚ Ross Cronjé; Warren Whiteley‚ Cyle Brink‚ Kwagga Smith; Marvin Orie‚ Stephan Lewies; Carlu Sadie‚ Robbie Coetzee‚ Sti Sithole.

Substitutes: Malcolm Marx‚ Frans van Wyk‚ Johannes Jonker‚ Wilhelm van der Sluys‚ Marnus Schoeman; Nic Groom‚ Elton Jantjies‚ Ruan Combrinck.

Referee: Brendon Pickerill

Assistant referees: Mike Fraser‚ Rasta Rasivhenge

TMO: Shane McDermott

Kick-off: 09.35

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