Bloemfontein - Cheetahs centre Francois Venter hopes to make his time with the Springboks count in May and June.
Venter was included in both Springbok training groups to be held in Johannesburg (May 3-6) and Cape Town (May 31-June 3).
The physical centre has been in consistent form for the Cheetahs during Super Rugby this season, which caught the attention of the national selectors.
“I must admit, the call-up came as a big surprise! A good surprise! But I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to prove myself, so I’m glad I have the chance to do so,” Venter told MyPlayers.co.za.
“The training camps are a great way to learn and experience the structures in the Springbok environment. The selectors will also get to see what I’m capable of, so hopefully, I can fulfil on the potential they see in me.
“I have a bit of experience as I was part of the ‘Young Guns’ group selected to train with the Boks back in 2012, during coach Heyneke Meyer’s first year with the team. I’ll also get some advice and tips from guys like wing Cornal Hendricks and fullback Willie le Roux, who has been a regular in the Springbok squad over the past few years.”
Venter, who spent four seasons at the Bulls before signing for the Cheetahs in 2014, believes he’s a better player thanks to the senior experience he has received in Bloemfontein.
“I can confidently say I’ve become a better player at the Cheetahs,” said Venter. “Especially on attack. My vision and decision-making in the backline has improved. These skills have improved thanks to the regular game time I’ve received at Super Rugby and Currie Cup levels.”
While Venter is enjoying a positive individual season, the Cheetahs are struggling in Super Rugby. Their 34-29 loss to the Lions last weekend was their eighth loss over the past nine games.
However, Venter believes the Cheetahs delivered an improved performance against the Lions, which they hope to build on ahead of their South African derby against the Stormers at Free State Stadium on Saturday.
“We lost against the Lions, but there were positives to take out of the game. We showed glimpses of our true potential, especially on attack. We did well to score four tries against them at Ellis Park,” said Venter.
“We now need another strong performance against the Stormers this weekend. They’re a tough team. I watched their match against the Bulls at Newlands, and they did well to grind out the win. They’re playing good rugby, so we will need run at our best on Saturday.”
Away from rugby, Venter said he’s enjoying life in Bloemfontein.
“I grew up here in Bloem, having attended Grey College as a schoolboy. It’s a small town, but I always find things to keep me busy,” said Venter. “I enjoy the outdoors. I usually go fishing and hunting, or I’ll just spend time with my friends with a lekker braai!”
Kick-off for Saturday’s clash at Free State Stadium is scheduled for 17:05.
15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Rayno Benjamin, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Sergeal Petersen, 10 Joe Pietersen, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Boom Prinsloo, 6 Tienie Burger, 5 Francois Uys (captain), 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen/Maks van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Caylib Oosthuizen
Substitutes: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Dolph Botha, 18 Maks van Dyk/Ewald van der Westhuizen, 19 Steven Sykes, 20 Carel Greeff, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Francois Brummer, 23 Danie Dames
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