Smith backs Venter to add value to Boks

Date published: October 23 2016

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Francois Venter can be an asset for the Springboks on their end-of-year tour, says Free State Cheetahs coach Franco Smith.

Venter led Free State to their first Currie Cup title in nine years when they beat the Blue Bulls in the final on Saturday to cap of a dream season in which they finished the competition unbeaten.

Venter was one of 12 uncapped players named in the two Springbok squads – one to face the Barbarians and the other for the three Tests.

But only four uncapped players were included in both squads – Venter‚ Cheetahs wing Sergeal Petersen‚ Blue Bulls flank Roelof Smit and Sharks flank Jean-Luc Du Preez.

"Francois has been knocking on the door for quite a while‚" Smith told Times Live.

"He’s a solid guy that works really hard at what he does. I moved him from 12 to 13 a couple of years ago and he asked me: ‘Do you really believe I can become a Springbok at 13?’

"I told him: ‘If you believe your junior coach who put you at 12 then it will be difficult but if you are willing to work hard then you can become a Bok.’

"We’ve worked really hard on his decision-making in the No 13 channel and it would be tough to move him back to 12‚ but he does have the ability to play both positions.

"I’m also happy for the rest of the guys in the Bok squad too‚ such as Sergeal and Uzair Cassiem (in the Barbarians squad) because the Free State has been without Boks for a long time. It will give the rest of the players here belief and confidence that the path we are on in Bloemfontein is the right one."

Smith will also be involved with the Boks in November after coach Allister Coetzee asked SARU to add the Cheetahs coach, as well as Lions defence specialist JP Ferreira, to his coaching staff.

Smith said his role in the Bok setup wasn't finalised yet.

"I haven’t had time to have a proper chat with Allister yet but we will do that in the week‚" Smith said.

"Obviously there is a lot of belief about what we have done in the Curie Cup and what the Lions have done in Super Rugby (the Lions finished runners-up).

"I believe that we (the Boks) must be the best team out there and not necessarily the best individuals. There are 12 new players that will leave their hearts on the field playing for South Africa for the first time.

"We really have to consider picking only SA-based players. Johan Ackermann (Lions coach) has also said it. Let’s get 45 players and work with them so we can redevelop new heroes for SA."

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