And after his inspirational cameo off the bench for South Africa in their come-from-behind 32-26 win over Ireland last weekend, assistant coach Matthew Proudfoot is confident that Whiteley can fill the big boots of Vermeulen.
Seen as one of the leaders in the team, the Boks will miss their tough No.8, but in Whiteley they now have a player that leads from the front in the back row.
And Proudfoot knows this, telling reporters: “Warren is really intelligent and sharp and is a good lineout exponent‚ and he is quick off the base.
“What has amazed me is Warren’s leadership. How he leads the guys is phenomenal and he is a player with an unbelievably high work ethic. Those are his qualities.
“We had a chat and what I told Warren was ‘what I respect about you is the way you lead the guys’.
“He makes the job easier for everyone and aligns a lot of the fringe players and that is crucial in a squad.”