Whiteley may play in Japan by December - doctor

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Johannesburg (AFP)

South Africa skipper and forward Warren Whiteley could play for his Japanese club during December, a doctor treating a long-term groin injury said Wednesday.

The 30-year-old number eight was hurt during a Test against France last June and has not played since.

He missed the last of three Tests against the French, the Rugby Championship, and has been ruled out of internationals in Ireland, France, Italy and Wales during November and December.

Whiteley plays Super Rugby for the Johannesburg-based Golden Lions, then turns out for NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes of Osaka during the Japanese season.

South African radio quoted Lions team doctor Rob Collins saying "Warren should be ready to play in less than two months.

Collins described the injury as "unique in that there were four problem areas within the hip.

"Only a nerve affecting the muscles needs to be sorted out and it is beginning to heal nicely."

Whiteley succeeded retired hooker Adriaan Strauss as Springboks skipper this year and helped turn around the team after a disastrous eight-defeat 2016 season.

South Africa beat France twice under Whiteley and have won five Tests, drawn two and lost two this year.