Bloemfontein - Cheetahs centre Francois
Venter says he’s excited to be part of the new chapter of professional rugby at
the central franchise.
Although there’s still one round of Super
Rugby remaining, the Cheetahs have already begun a new era under head coach
Franco Smith, who has replaced Naka Drotske after an eight-year stint.
Smith’s tenure started off on a losing note
as the Cheetahs suffered a 58-33 home defeat against the Waratahs last weekend.
However, Venter said there were positives
to take out of their performance as they prepare for their clash against the
Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday. The centre also stressed that patience will be
needed as the team rebuilds.
“We obviously weren’t happy with the
result, but for the first time this season, we made a bigger impact on attack (33
points was the most the Cheetahs have scored in one match all season), and
that’s exciting,” Venter told MyPlayers.co.za.
“We placed a big emphasis on defence during
the season, and now we need to find the balance between the two. For the match
against the Bulls, we have been working really hard on our defensive
structures, to ensure it matches our expansive attacking plans.
“There needs to be a realisation that the
Cheetahs won’t be an overnight success under Franco - plans are being put in
place to ensure that we can rebuild and become a competitive force in all
competitions. Franco’s a passionate coach and knows how to get the best out of
his players. He won’t let anybody stop him from achieving his goals for the
“The Cheetahs are where the Lions were a
few years ago. With the right structures, the Lions have progressed very well
and are playing a good brand of rugby. We are hoping to achieve the same thing
over time to ensure we put the pride back into Cheetahs rugby.”
Venter has been one of the Cheetahs’
standout performers this season, and was rewarded with a place in the
Springboks’ training squads in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
The 24-year-old said he thoroughly enjoyed
the opportunity and hopes he can establish a regular spot in the national team
in the near future.
“It’s amazing how much the Springbok
environment has such a positive influence on the players. We’re opponents on
the Super Rugby field, but when the guys get to bond as one team, so many
friendships are created, which was really great to experience,” Venter
“The way things are managed and organised
is very professional, and I learned so much on and off the field. It has
encouraged me to work harder and to continue my good form, which will hopefully
motivate the selectors to consider me again.”
Kick-off for Saturday’s clash at Loftus Versfeld
is scheduled for 17:05.
15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Francois Hougaard, 13 JJ
Engelbrecht, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Travis Ismaiel, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter,
9 Rudy Paige, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Arno Botha, 5
Grant Hattingh, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan
Strauss, 1 Morné Mellett
Substitutes: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Trevor
Nyakane, 18 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 19 Roelof Smit, 20 Bjorn Basson, 21
Tian Schoeman, 22 Jurgen Visser, 23 Werner Kruger
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Clayton Blommetjies,
13 Francois Venter, 12 Rayno Benjamin, 11 Sergeal Petersen, 10 Niel Marais, 9
Sarel Pretorius, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Boom Prinsloo, 5 Francois
Uys (captain), 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 BG Uys
Substitutes: 16 Elandré Huggett, 17 Danie
Mienie, 18 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 19 Seven Sykes, 20 Gerhard Olivier, 21
Oupa Mohoje, 22 Renier Botha, 23 Coenie van Wyk
For more exclusive player content, check out MyPlayers.co.za