Cheetahs bank on the Venter factor

Fri, 17 Jan 2014 07:11
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Cheetahs assistant coach Hawies Fourie chatted to Jan de Koning about the most dramatic change in the team - the departure of Robert Ebersohn.

Francois Venter seems to be following in the shadow of Robert Ebersohn - always just a year behind at various teams.

They both played for South African Schools (Ebersohn in 2007 and Venter in 2008) and both played for SA Under-20 (Ebersohn in 2008 and 2009, Venter the following two years).

Now, with Ebersohn off to French club Montpellier, Venter has arrived at the Cheetahs - ironically again the year following Ebersohn's last appearance for the team.

While they have taken a similar route so far, the big difference between the two players is their skillset.

Many pundits feel this could be the Cheetahs' biggest problem, replacing the skills they lost through Ebersohn's departure.

However, Cheetahs assistant coach Hawies Fourie does not agree with that verdict.

He confirmed that Venter, who transferred to the Cheetahs at the end of 2013 after he made more that 50 appearances for the Bulls (Super Rugby) and Blue Bulls (Currie Cup) between 2011 and 2013, will most likely play at No.12.

"So far he [Venter] has slotted in very well in our style and game plan - he has great skills and runs great lines," Fourie told this website.

"I am excited about him, I feel the gap left by Robert [Ebersohn's departure] he will fill very well."

Fourie admitted that Venter's skillsets are different to that which Ebersohn offered, but felt his combination with former Bulls teammate Johann Sadie will benefit the Cheetahs.

"They [Venter and Sadie] played together a little at the Bulls," the Cheetahs backline mentor said, adding: "They may not have had many games together, but they spend some time together."

Fourie also addressed the different skillsets by Venter and his predecessor at the Cheetahs.

"Robert [Ebersohn] was a very good defender and made a big impact at the breakdown, where Francois [Venter] is a great attacking player, runs great lines and distributes the ball well," the Cheetahs mentor told this website.

"He can also step into the playmaker role, so I am sure he will supplement [Johann] Sadie very well.

"There are aspects that Robert [Ebersohn] was very good with, that he [Venter] may not be so good at, but in return he has skills that he is better in that Robert was.

"The key for me, always, is to utilise the players' strength and bring that into your game plan as much as possible."

By Jan de Koning

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