Venter sticking with Lions

Rejected centre Walter Venter says he won’t leave the Lions and is even willing to prove himself in the Varsity Cup.

Venter was dumped from coach Loffie Eloff’s 33-man squad last week, with Barry Goodes and Deon van Rensburg’s versatility deemed superior to that of a specialist No 12 in Venter.

There is a real possibility that Venter could be poached by another union if he remains on the outer, but he maintains he will stay in Johannesburg until the end of the year. The 24-year-old is contracted until the end of 2010, but there is a get-out clause at the conclusion of this year’s Currie Cup.

“I’ve never been approached by anyone,” Venter told keo.co.za. “I love the Lions, love the squad and I don’t want to play anywhere else. I obviously think I’m good enough to play in the Super 14, so if offers do come my way I’ll have to look at them.”

In the wake of his exclusion from Eloff’s squad Venter was in-line to help out the Cheetahs. However, his loyalty to the Lions – where he has been in the system since representing the Craven Week side in 2002 – meant he stayed in Johannesburg.

“Seeing as I was dropped I was on the draft list for other sides, so I phoned up [Cheetahs coach] Naka Drotske,” said Venter. “He said I could join with pleasure on a two-week trial seeing as they are short of centres. But we are playing the Cheetahs next Friday and it’s not in my character to be unethical, so in the end I decided to stay here.”

Venter was content with his pre-season form and conditioning, where he bulked up by 7kg.

“I was looking forward to a big season after gaining experience in my first year in the Super 14. I’m weighing more than ever, 96kg, and that was a big thing as people always said I was too small for Super Rugby.”

The former SA U21 centre now has other aspects of his game to work on,and he’s prepared to do it at whatever level possible.

“I need game-time to improve and to show people what I can do. I want to become a better distributor, not be as one-dimensional as I have been and to work on certain skills. That’s why next week I’m playing for the University of Johannesburg in the Varsity Cup.

“As long as I can play rugby, for no matter what team, that’s the most important thing for me.”

By Grant Ball