Former Springbok forward AJ Venter is glad that it’s not his job to choose between Pierre Spies and Ryan Kankowski before South Africa play Wales in the second rugby Test in Pretoria on Saturday.
Stephen Nell writes in Die Burger that selecting one of the two talented players at No 8 is the responsibility of Springbok coach Peter de Villiers. “I’m glad I don’t have to make that decision,” Venter said here on Tuesday.
“Ryan is an extremely talented player. He has all the qualities one wants in a good No 8. He has speed and is explosive.
“But Pierre was outstanding in last week’s Test,” Venter said when he arrived at his first practice with the Western Province Currie Cup squad.
The 34-year-old Venter, who also played at No 8 for South Africa and was in the same Sharks Super 14 squad as Kankowski until a few weeks ago, has been contracted as a lock forward by WP.
However, he may be at No 8 in his new team’s first Currie Cup match on June 20.
WP coach Allister Coetzee has hinted that Venter could be utilised at the back.
“We will have a look at our needs. We have four good locks (Francois van der Merwe, Ross Skeate, Adriaan Fondse and Rito Hlungwani) and two of our loose forwards (Luke Watson and Schalk Burger) are with the Springboks.
Leave something of value
“It could be better to use AJ as a loose forward now. His input will be valuable.”
Coetzee said the presence of an experienced player such as Venter created confidence among the younger players.
Venter said he would play wherever Province may need him. “I can play in either of the lock positions and anywhere among the loose forwards.
“I’m not as fast as the young guys are but I hope to leave something of value during the short time that I’ll be with WP.”
The whole WP backline is on international duty and some top forwards have also been called up. The team will therefore rely heavily on players such as Venter and flyhalf Willem de Waal during the early part of the competition.
De Waal, a former Cheetahs star, is expected to join the rest of the WP squad on Wednesday, in time for the training camp that starts at Somerset West in three days’ time.
With 17 WP players in the Springbok squad and the Emerging Springbok team, and wing Sireli Naqelevuki back in Fiji’s squad, it will take some knuckling down to keep the WP campaign on track.
Venter, however, has moved to Cape Town with some serious ambitions. “The only time I was in a team that won the Currie Cup was with the Lions in 1999.
“I was also fortunate to be part of the (SA) team that won the Tri-Nations in 2004. Other than that, there are not many medals in the Venter household.”
The WP squad for the training camp: AJ Venter, Adriaan Fondse, Allister Siegelaar, Brock Harris, Conraad Britz, Dabeon Draghoender, Danie van der Merwe, David Hendricks, Deon Fourie, Dylan des Fountain, Francois Louw, Francois van der Merwe, Gio Aplon, Joe Pietersen, Justin Melck, Mark Goosen, PJ Vermeulen, Paul Delport, Pieter Myburgh, Ricardo Croy, Rito Hlungwani, Ross Skeate, Ruaan du Preez, Schalk Ferreira, Simon Westraad, Terry Jacobs, Wicus Blaauw, Willem de Waal, Wylie Human and Zhahier Ryland.