Venter joins Bulls exodus
Bloemfontein - Bulls midfielder Francois Venter will play his rugby for the Cheetahs as from the end of the year.
According to the supersport.com website, Venter, who was seen as a rising star, decided against signing a new contract with the Bulls, and added his name to the list of players leaving the Pretoria union this year.
While he earned himself a starting role alongside Johann Sadie last year in the opening Super Rugby game, injury and form counted against him and he struggled to establish himself as a first choice centre, and now will join Sadie in Bloemfontein, after the latter was released from his contract last year.
Since Venter was injured this year, he has seen Jan Serfontein leap-frog him not only into the Bulls starting line-up but also into the Springbok team, and the prospect of trying to unseat the young prodigy seems to have been too much, with Venter opting rather for more game time in Bloemfontein, where he will replace Robert Ebersohn, who is heading to Montpellier.
“It is always a shame to lose a guy like Francois,” Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said, “But we had a long discussion with him and he wants to establish himself in SA Rugby and he feels the only way is to start on a regular basis in Super Rugby. It was a big decision for him, and not one that he took overnight. We have been talking to him for six months now about this decision and it is all about playing time.
“He had an injury which hampered him and he couldn’t reach his own goals for the season. It is a pity, he is a quality centre and he can make it to the top.”
Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske was overjoyed about the signing, and said Venter would slot in nicely into the Cheetah backline.
“Francois is a very underrated player and he will fit exceptionally well into the Cheetahs’ playing pattern. He is physical and runs great lines, especially on attack,” Drotske said.
Venter joins a growing list of players leaving Loftus Versfeld, including Juandre Kruger, who has already left for France, while the likes of Jano Vermaak (Toulouse), Morne Steyn (Stade Francais), Wynand Olivier (Montpellier), Dewald Potgieter (Japan), Jacques Potgieter (Japan), Zane Kirchner (Leinster) and Wilhelm Steenkamp (Force) will leave at the end of the season.
On the positive side, the Bulls have also confirmed a contract extension for another year for former SA Under-20 lock Paul Willemse, who will start off the bench in Saturday’s Super Rugby semi-final at Loftus.
Venter will join former Springbok flyer Tonderai Chavhanga in Bloemfontein after he confirmed his return to the country.