VIDEO: Lions give update on Whiteley injury
Whiteley's injury-enforced absence from the team was extended last week, when Lions confirmed that Whiteley's knee injury will keep him sidelined for a while longer.
Whiteley injured his knee against the Blues in Round Four.
He was set to return to the team against the Waratahs in Sydney last Friday, but tweaked his knee in training and withdrew from the team ahead of their 29-0 whitewash of the Waratahs in Sydney last Friday.
Whiteley was withdrawn from the touring squad, but not replaced – in the hope that scans would clear him.
De Bruin, when asked if Whiteley will return for any part of the tour, said they will not rush him back.
He will be wrapped in cotton wool for the Springboks, according to the coach.
"I wish I can work that one [Whiteley's injury] out," De Bruin quipped, adding: "Then he is ready, then not.
"It is one of those: The MRI scan shows he is fine, then there is a bit if a niggle.
"Apparently now – our [team] doctor spoke to the specialist [last Thursday] – it is looking positive.
"[However] we won't rush him back. We will see how it goes."
The Lions coach said Whiteley will be closely monitored and nurtured in the interest of the national team.
"He is still a Springbok and he has a good chance to lead the national team [against Wales and England in June].
"That is [the] priority still [for us]."
Stand-in captain Franco Mostert said losing a player like Whiteley is a 'big' loss.
"However, guys like Marnus Schoeman and Hacjivah [Dayimani] bring something special," the lock said, adding: "The new guys stepped up very well."