An injury to Warren Whiteley will put the performance of Springbok hopeful Cyle Brink against the Highlanders in the spotlight, writes JOHN GOLIATH.
Goodness knows where Brink may have been in the Springbok pecking order if he hadn’t suffered that season-ending knee injury ahead of the 2018 Rugby Championship opener against Argentina.
Instead of getting a chance to make the Bok No 7 jersey his own, the hard-tackling Brink had to watch Pieter-Steph du Toit produce some of the best performances of his career to cement his place in the South African loose trio for the foreseeable future.
Brink had an outstanding 2018 Super Rugby campaign for the Lions in their run to the final, and was probably their best player in the championship match against the mighty Crusaders. Brink is a big lad who can be devastating with ball and in hand, and is a very aggressive defender. He was surely going to get a look-in for the Springboks after those performances.
It wasn’t to be, but now Brink is back from injury and can impress again when the Lions take on the Highlanders at Ellis Park on Saturday afternoon. Brink replaces another Springbok hopeful, Lions captain Warren Whiteley, who will miss the match with a knee injury.
Whiteley has only made four starts for the the Lions this year after an injury-riddled campaign. The former Springbok captain is also still looking to impress the selectors, but needs a run of matches to cement his place in the World Cup squad.
‘It’s not nice, for him or for us,’ said Lions coach Swys de Bruin. ‘Warren is such a passionate guy and he just wants to play rugby. I really feel for him.’
‘He’s in and then he’s out, and it’s obviously a little disruptive for him and for us. But at least we’ve got some quality depth among the loose forwards, and we simply have to adapt again for this weekend.’
Lions – 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Kwagga Smith, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Stephan Lewies, 3 Carlü Sadie, 2 Malcolm Marx (c), 1 Dylan Smith.
Subs: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Sti Sithole, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Vincent Tshituka, 20 Hacjivah Dayimani, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Shaun Reynolds, 23 Tyrone Green.
Highlanders – 15 Matt Faddes, 14 Jordan Hyland, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Teihorangi Walden, 11 Sio Tomkinson, 10 Josh Ioane, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Shannon Frizell, 7 Luke Whitelock (c), 6 Dillon Hunt, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Josh Dickson, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Ayden Johnstone.
Subs: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Jack Whetton, 20 James Lentjes, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Dan Hollinshead, 23 Waisake Naholo.
Photo: Martin Hunter/Getty Images