Springbok and Lions loose forward Warren Whiteley has confirmed that he will undergo knee surgery at the end of the year to give himself the best chance of playing rugby again.
Whiteley has not played since early 2019 after suffering one of a number of knee injuries that have marred the latter stages of his career.
After being ruled out of the 2020 Vodacom Super Rugby season, the 32-year-old focused on coaching this year, taking a role as the Lions’ lineout specialist.
Speaking to Independent Online, Whiteley confirmed that he has decided to undergo surgery on his knee, as time and physical rehabilitation haven’t resulted in any improvement.
‘I’ve seen doctors up here [Johannesburg], I’ve seen a doctor in Durban and most recently I’ve been in contact with a surgeon in Cape Town, who’s likely to do the operation,’ Whiteley said.
‘I’ve spoken to as many doctors as possible to get different opinions and they’re all in agreement. If I’m to get better and if the knee is to heal properly, I have to have another operation.
‘I’ve tried to avoid this specific operation because I know it’s going to be a long healing process – up to a year, and maybe even longer. I’m going to have to be on crutches for a while and I don’t want to be on crutches when rugby starts up again. It’s the reason why I’m considering doing the operation at the end of the year during the team’s pre-season.’
Whiteley added he will not be rushing into a decision about his playing career after the surgery.
‘I’ll see what happens over time, but before I get to make any decision about playing, I want to first be able to play with my kids in the backyard and not feel pain. I want to play hockey, netball and rugby, I want to sprint and run with my kids; that’s the first thing I want to get out of the surgery. What happens after that can be decided at a later stage.
‘I’m 100% focused on the coaching right now. I absolutely love it. I’m learning every day and am so excited about what this Lions team may do when we start playing again.’