Veteran Sharks loose forward AJ Venter has confirmed that an injury, and no other reasons, kept him out of last week’s Super 14 semi-final against the Waratahs.
“It is important for me to send out the correct message. I don’t want people to think I did not want to play,” Venter said on Tuesday.
Stephen Nell writes in Die Burger that eyebrows were raised when Tonga’s Epi Taione was promoted to the starting lineup and Venter was not even among the substitutes for the match in Sydney.
Taione put in a poor performance and whispers started doing the rounds that Venter’s omission may have had something to do with his decision to move to Western Province.
“I would have been on the bench from the start,” Venter said on Tuesday. “But because of my injury it was decided on Saturday morning that Keegan Daniel would replace me.”
The tough Springbok revealed that he had suffered a fracture of one of his thumbs in the Sharks’ match against the Chiefs.
“I went to hospital on Monday. It should take about two weeks to recover completely.”
Venter and his wife are expected to arrive in Cape Town on Wednesday and will have discussions with WP officials about finding accommodation.
“I did not play much Super 14 rugby. I feel fresh. There’s still a lot of rugby in me,” the 34-year-old Venter said.
“I’m not as fast and agile as the younger guys are but there is something I can bring to a team. If you’ve played in the Super 14 for a few years, you offer experience that can bring calmness to a team.”
Venter had originally planned to retire at the end of last year’s Currie Cup season but he remains a tough customer on the field.
WP have signed him to play at lock for one season but Venter is willing to help in any way he can.
“It does not matter how they use me. If they want me to play for 80 minutes in every match, I’ll do that.
“If my role means I have to play for 40 minutes, I’ll do that, with pleasure. I’ll help in any way in which I can add value.”Tweet