KSA Shark ©

The one that got away?

Written by Andre Bosch (KSA Shark ©)

Posted in :In the news, Lions, Sharks, Super Rugby on 15 Mar 2011 at 18:27
Tagged with : , , , , , , ,

Lions No.8 Warren Whiteley has been a revelation at the back of the scrum since bursting onto the scene in last year’s Currie Cup, but he could have been a Shark.

Whiteley looks to be yet another top quality loose forward to come through in South Africa’s never ending conveyor belt of back row stars that make most other nations green with envy.

The 23-year-old has been a regular starter at the Lions since the John Mitchell revolution towards the back end of last year and has formed a great partnership with Joshua Strauss and Derick Minnie as a highly competitive loose trio.

However, Whiteley’s rugby development started in Durban where he was a schoolboy and then at the Sharks academy.

“I’m a born and bred Durban boy and lived there most of my life,” Whiteley told rugby365.com.

“When I was in Grade 10 my parents moved up to Johannesburg and I didn’t want to move schools from Glenwood so I stayed in Durban.”

“I love the outdoors and living by the sea having grown up there.”

The talented No.8 was almost lost to rugby completely after he went to North West University in Potchefstroom after school to follow in his sister’s footsteps and study graphic design.

“My sister is a graphic designer and we are all pretty artistic in my family, but after four months at Potch I changed my mind about studying and decided to go back to Durban and join the Sharks academy,” he explained.

“I was very fortunate that the Sharks and my parents believed in me and gave me that opportunity.

“I was with the Sharks for three years and at the end I was part of the Currie Cup squad, but didn’t get much game time because they have some really good loose forwards who have been in the side for quite some time.”

In search of some extra game time Whiteley then moved to another coastal town, Port Elizabeth, and joined the Might Elephants on a short term contract at the end of the 2009 season.

“I really enjoyed the chance to go to EP and get some game time and play at a higher level in the first division instead of only playing club rugby,” he said.

Finally the big break came for Whiteley, when he received an offer to join the Lions at the start of 2010 and made the move inland to Johannesburg.

Current Lions boss Mitchell can thank his predecessor Dick Muir for bringing Whiteley to the Lions from Durban.

“Dick Muir phoned me and asked if I was interested in coming to the Lions, because when I played for the Wildebeest he was still the Sharks coach,” he explained.

“He said I should give it a shot because there would be more opportunity for me to play here than at the Sharks where there was more depth in my position.”

However, it was Mitchell who gave Whiteley his first start in the Lions senior team and he hasn’t look back.

“John Mitchell backed me and I’m very grateful to him,” Whiteley said.

“He has a lot of knowledge to give to us and his attention to details helps so much, especially for me because he was a No.8 himself.

“I’ve found my feet playing at No.8 now and I’m still learning a lot, because I was a flyhalf at school until in Under-16 I moved to openside flank and only played at No.8 for the first time at U21 level.”

Together with the rest of the young crop of players forging their place in the Lions, Whiteley is excited about the rugby culture that is being brewed at his new home.

After several years of disappointing results, those bad memories began to get washed away by some promising Currie Cup performances last year.

“The Currie Cup was a great experience for us and to start something and building a culture showed us that this is the start of something great,” he said.

“Now we know that we are ready for the challenge of measuring ourselves against the best Super Rugby teams.

“I just want to be a good team man and keep my place in the starting line-up and add as much value as I can.”

With the freedom to play as part of the starting XV Whiteley is able to test himself against the players he looked up to at the Sharks.

“My hero growing up was Henry Honiball, but the loose forwards I look up to currently are Kieran Read, Ryan Kankowski and a guy like Keegan Daniel because of what he is able to do when you think about his size.

“Ryan and Keegan are awesome guys and I’ve played with and against them – it is always good to measure yourself against the best.”

Whiteley is coming into his own at the Lions and despite his love for the sea – he isn’t planning on leaving the big city just yet.

“The Lions have done so much for me that I want to stay here for as long as they want me,” he said.

By Timmy Hancox for Rugby 365


  • Certainly one that got away IMO, but we are well covered though so we couldn’t expect the guy to sit around waiting.

  • Comment 1, posted at 15.03.11 18:36:13 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • Sounds like a good guy! Unfortunately u will always have the situation where some big fishes might (have to) leave.

  • Comment 2, posted at 15.03.11 18:42:31 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 1) : Yeah, he would simply not have been playing Super rugby this year if he stayed in Durban.

  • Comment 3, posted at 15.03.11 18:55:55 by war1 Reply
  • I love Warren – reckon he’s a great guy and wish he was still with us.

    Then again, would you pick him ahead of Hoff, Keegan or Vic at 8? Hell no.

  • Comment 4, posted at 15.03.11 18:56:38 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Good player with a great attitude.

    All the best to him: he didn’t have much chance of passing our current crop at the Sharks. Has formed a great partnership witht the other Lions loosies.

  • Comment 5, posted at 15.03.11 19:00:54 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @Big Fish (Comment 5) : it’s a kak thing trying to get a game as a loosie in Durban. Ask Justin Downey

  • Comment 6, posted at 15.03.11 19:25:21 by robdylan Reply
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  • Reminds me of Big Joe. With a few more brain cells obviously.

  • Comment 7, posted at 15.03.11 19:45:19 by Speed7 Reply

  • @Speed7 (Comment 7) : cos if he had fewer, he wouldn’t be able to walk upright 🙂

    Interesting changes to the Sharks XV this weekend… they’re up against your lot

  • Comment 8, posted at 15.03.11 19:47:10 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Jip,sounds like a great guy.def a great rugby player!
    Hope we manage to retain the new crop of talented loosies @ the sharks.
    Would really like to know what has become of jaco otto?last I heard,someone mentioned he was staying on in dbn this season to see if he make vc squad or something.
    Then we have lambert groenewald,marcel coetzee,adonga,and another player i’ve heard is a real talent,francois kleynhans.
    We could actually do with some talented scrummies coming thru.hope cobus reinach gets gametime and uses the opportunities.and whichever one of the cronje twins that play @9.
    @15 we have cobus de kock and wynand pienaar
    Some talented centre in lindeque and jordaan.hope heimar williams has a big season in the u21s.

  • Comment 9, posted at 15.03.11 19:48:04 by bergshark Reply

  • That’s like a Lions Super rugby trial match for 2012 already. Haha. Gonna be tight.

  • Comment 10, posted at 15.03.11 19:49:37 by Speed7 Reply

  • @bergshark (Comment 9) : speaking of Williams… 🙂

  • Comment 11, posted at 15.03.11 19:54:58 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Speed7 (Comment 10) : Give it up! You are just saying that the Lions team is not good enough.

  • Comment 12, posted at 15.03.11 20:51:10 by war1 Reply
  • @Speed7 (Comment 7) : I so agree. When I saw him last year I thought the exact same thing.

    Anyway I was hoping for a more positive spin on Whiteley rise to prominence. One that gives the Lions a bit of credit.

    I disagree with the Big Joe bit. When van Niekerk in top form, he was an unbelieveably good rugby player – one of the best in the world. Maybe not one of the smartest guys socially but a rugby brain of note.

  • Comment 13, posted at 15.03.11 21:28:47 by beet Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • @bergshark (Comment 9) : I so like Heimar Williams as well and also hope he has a huge u21 season. I’m disappointed that he isn’t afforded the opportunity to show his worth in a compo right now that gives the SA u20 guys another chance to see what he’s got to offer. I wish we could loan him out to a Varsity Cup team.

  • Comment 14, posted at 15.03.11 21:35:21 by beet Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • Yes War1. The Lions are better but still not good enough. We still have a long way to go before we can compete with the best week after week.

  • Comment 15, posted at 15.03.11 21:35:41 by Speed7 Reply

  • @beet (Comment 14) : Heimar will play 12 against the Lions this weekend, but shhh…. you didn’t hear it from me 🙂

  • Comment 16, posted at 15.03.11 21:37:14 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • And yes I do expect it. All that money and such a densely populated area geographically should never have gone through such a weak period.

  • Comment 17, posted at 15.03.11 21:38:18 by Speed7 Reply

  • Piss poor administrators at the Lions.

  • Comment 18, posted at 15.03.11 21:40:20 by Speed7 Reply

  • Speed7. The Lions would do well to build from the age group players up. Nico Serfontein should prove to be the best signing the Lions have made. A core group of players who have been together in the same structures from young will prove that much harder to beat. Maybe us fans should stop ‘laying claim’ to opposition players and this counts for Sharks fans just as much as any other team’s fans.

  • Comment 19, posted at 15.03.11 21:46:07 by war1 Reply
  • @robdylan (Comment 16) : Rob I love your work! I saw Heimar walking towards Musgrave Centre on Sunday while I was driving out and took a chance to greet him from afar. All I can say is what a friendly likable guy, I genuinely mean it.

  • Comment 20, posted at 15.03.11 21:48:36 by beet Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • @beet (Comment 20) : he’s one of my favourites (ok – so I have a lot of favourites!)

    Seriously, though… just a really open, friendly, likeable young man with no attitude or agenda other than playing good rugby for the Sharks.

  • Comment 21, posted at 16.03.11 00:47:32 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @beet (Comment 20) : can I also point out that I love YOUR work? I doubt there is anyone else on this site who would be able to recognise the young players like you do!

  • Comment 22, posted at 16.03.11 00:49:31 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Warren is definitely one of the stand out guys at the Lions. Best of luck to him.

  • Comment 23, posted at 16.03.11 06:53:02 by Jarson (AddicteD) Reply
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  • @bergshark (Comment 9) : Jaco Otto is still in Durban, playing at Old Boys this year. Word from the Sharks is that they deem him too small and thus will probably not get a look in. He is off to the Hong Kong 10s this weekend and will probably be off to a Varsity cup side or overseas next year. He is a quality player and if u have the chance to watch any club rugby you will see the impact he makes.
    I hope the Sharks give guys like Williams,Lindeque,Jordaan etc a decent run in the Currie Cup so they can put sum real pressure on the so called established players!

  • Comment 24, posted at 16.03.11 08:41:12 by SheldonK Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 24) :

    I find it rubbish that a decision can be made purely on a guy’s size..

    Surely they should consider the impact he makes on the team?!

    Best of luck to him, I hope he makes a huge success of his rugby career..

  • Comment 25, posted at 16.03.11 08:44:03 by Richard Ferguson Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
    Richard Ferguson
  • he would have battled to get good game time with kankowski, alberts and keegan, so the lions is a great move. and in two years time when the sharks need to replace some players he will have good experience and will be ready to step right in.

  • Comment 26, posted at 16.03.11 08:49:37 by try time Reply

  • @Speed7 (Comment 10) :

    That is getting old, repetetive and rather tiresome ..

  • Comment 27, posted at 16.03.11 11:21:27 by CoffeeshopBok;-) Reply

  • @war1 (Comment 19) :

    Comment of the Month !

  • Comment 28, posted at 16.03.11 11:22:58 by CoffeeshopBok;-) Reply

  • “The Lions have done so much for me that I want to stay here for as long as they want me,” he said.

    Fantastic atitude, long may you stay and enjoy playing your rugby up here.

  • Comment 29, posted at 16.03.11 11:24:20 by CoffeeshopBok;-) Reply

  • well sharks if you snooze you loose he should of got more game time imo thats about it :mrgreen:

  • Comment 30, posted at 18.03.11 06:39:52 by chaz Reply


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