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Sport24.co.za | ‘Young’ Cheetahs full of confidence



Bloemfontein
– Cheetahs centre Francois Venter believes they are in a good position ahead of
the 2016 season.

The
Cheetahs endured a disappointing start to this year’s Currie Cup, losing three
of their opening six fixtures of the domestic campaign.

However,
they did well to bounce back, securing a place in the semi-finals in dramatic
fashion. They scored two converted tries in the final five minutes to earn a
34-34 draw against the Sharks during the last round of league games, which was
enough to see them finish in fourth spot.

Although
they were beaten 43-33 by the Golden Lions in Johannesburg during the playoffs,
Venter believes it was a courageous performance – one that proved that there
are positive things to come from the Bloemfontein-based union.

“Overall,
we have a young and exciting young squad, with a good group of experienced
leaders. Across the board, there’s so much great talent,” Venter told
MyPlayers.co.za.

“This
was proven against the Lions. They were the clear favourites going into the
semi-finals, but we managed to push them close on their home ground. At one
stage, the game could’ve gone either way.

“We
also have an exciting coach in Franco Smith, who brings out the best in his
players. He encourages us to play our natural game and what’s in front of us,”
Venter added.

“This
Currie Cup was a great learning experience for the team. It has definitely made
us stronger as we now focus on Super Rugby next season. We will also be
strengthened by the Griquas and Griffons players who will join the squad during
the off-season, giving the Cheetahs more depth.”

Venter
formed part of an exciting Cheetahs backline, which made a positive impact with
ball in hand. He believes this will be a key weapon in their arsenal next year.

“We
have an exciting and attacking backline. We want to put the opposition under
pressure by getting the team over the gainline and exposing the spaces in the
defence,” said Venter. “A guy like Clayton Blommetjies did so very well during
the Currie Cup as he created many linebreaks.

“I’m
also very happy with my game. I’ve been working hard on my ball-carrying and
distribution skills. I hope to play a big role for the Cheetahs going forward.”

Venter’s
impressive form this season saw him called up to the Springbok squad earlier
this year. He hopes he can play his way into the national team again in the
near future.

“I
was very proud of that call-up. It means I’m doing something right, and I hope
to continue doing well. It’s my childhood dream to play for the Springboks, so
hopefully, I can achieve this one day.”

The
Cheetahs will be on a break until they start their off-season preparations on November
9. Venter started his holiday in Mozambique, where he spent a few days with a
few friends.

“It
was great to get a break and travel over to Mozambique. It’s important to get
away from the game whenever possible, so you can come back refreshed and
focused,” said Venter. “I’m looking forward to some downtime with friends and
family before we start our off-season preparations in two weeks’ time. It’s
going to be an exciting 2016.”

For more exclusive player content, check out MyPlayers.co.za



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