Warren Whiteley
Warren Whiteley

The Lions expect to embark on their four-match Australasian tour next week with their injured stars almost all restored to fitness.

Regular captain Warren Whiteley (knee)‚ who was injured halfway through their defeat by the Blues at Ellis Park in round four‚ will be the most significant returnee from injury.

His leadership has been sorely missed, with the Lions losing to the Blues‚ Jaguares and Crusaders during his absence.

Whiteley’s calm‚ calculated demeanour was conspicuous by its absence in that period but it remains to be seen whether he will be eased back in off the bench.

Hacjivah Dayimani has deputised well for him at No8 in the past two matches.

Scrumhalf Ross Cronjé (rib)‚ wing Aphiwe Dyantyi (pectoral muscle) and centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg (upper leg haematoma) are also expected to be cleared for the tour, but it is still uncertain when exactly they will return to the playing surface.

Either way‚ the return of the quartet will be a significant boost to the Lions.

Last weekend’s walking wounded should be available for the Lions’ first match on tour.

Flank Cyle Brink has a nerve entrapment in his right shoulder but should be available for selection when the Lions play the Waratahs in Sydney on April 20. The same applies to scrumhalf Dillon Smit, who injured his rib cartilage.

Four-try hero against the Stormers Madosh Tambwe is also expected to be fit after he left the field in the 54th minute last weekend.

Flank Jaco Kriel and winger Courtnall Skosan, however‚ remain long-term casualties.

The Lions will need all hands on deck in what is likely to be a testing tour.

They lost ground on home soil with defeat to the Blues and Crusaders and will eye at least as many wins on the road.

They play the Waratahs in Sydney‚ the Reds in Brisbane and the Hurricanes in Wellington‚ before concluding their tour with a clash against the Highlanders in Dunedin.