Three Springboks will be the centre of attention, so to speak, when the Stormers and the Lions meet in a Super 14 rugby showdown at Ellis Park on Saturday but an unheralded midfielder may steal their thunder.
Hennie Brandt writes in Beeld that many eyes will be on the Springbok centres – Jaque Fourie of the Lions and Jean de Villiers and Gcobani Bobo of the Stormers – but 23-year-old Walter Venter could be the surprise package.
Venter made his Super 14 debut this season when Doppies la Grange was injured and dropped out of the Lions squad.
Since then, Venter has quietly become a stalwart in the Lions team, showing an eye for a gap and solid defence.
It will be his first opportunity to oppose former Lions player Bobo.
Venter played in four Currie Cup matches for the Lions last year, including a semi-final and the final.
“I never thought I’d be playing Super 14 rugby this year,” he said on Thursday. “I thought I would have to play another season of Currie Cup rugby.
“But now I’ve been given the chance and I want to make the most of it.”
Venter, who previously played for the Leopards and the Falcons, has not lost any sleep about marking De Villiers and Bobo.
“I see it as a great challenge. As my team-mates say, they are only human, with arms and legs that can be tackled. As long as one does the basics right you don’t have to worry.”
The fact that he will be playing alongside the experienced Fourie also adds to his confidence.
Assistant coach Wimpie Vermeulen said on Thursday Fourie’s return after a long absence had brought about a major change in the Lion’s backline.
“You can’t believe what his presence means. Suddenly, the other backs have much more confidence. He can create something out of nothing.”
Television: Live coverage on M-Net and SuperSport 1 on DStv from 15:00 on Saturday.Tweet