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Stormers' razor-sharp Venter is ahead of schedule

SPOTLIGHT: The son of a Springbok great, Andre-Hugo Venter is writing his own story in a breakthrough year for the Stormers.

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Venter has celebrated the festive season with some excellent performances for the Stormers. A last-minute try against defending champions La Rochelle in the Champions Cup, teeing up Manie Libbok to strike the match-winning conversion, was followed by a super-sub contribution in the United Rugby Championship derby against the Bulls in Cape Town.

The Stormers hooker has a no-nonsense, tough-as-nails approach to the game that must be hereditary to the Venters – his father, Andre, who played 66 Test matches between 1996 and 2001, is revered by many as the prototypical Springbok iron man.

The Venter qualities are evident both on and off the field. In person, Andre-Hugo is softly-spoken and humble but once his studs dig into the turf, he morphs into a tireless competitor with a never-say-die attitude.

His performance in the Stormers’ 26-20 win against the Bulls made it clear that Venter is also capable of adding a cutting edge to the attack with a developing array of skills.

Less than 10 minutes after his introduction from the bench, Venter followed up a contestable kick and collected the ball after it was knocked-on by the Bulls.

Charging forward, but showing wonderful balance, he sidestepped a tackler and freed his arms in a tackle from Bulls and Springboks wing Canan Moodie to produce an instinctive one-handed offload to Stormers flank Willie Engelbrecht, who set up Ruhan Nel for the decisive match score.

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Venter may defer to his father for raw toughness and brute strength, but in this moment showcased his value to the Stormers’ exciting approach to the game.

At 22, Venter is still developing as a member of the front row, a breed of players known to take some time to hit their peak.

However, he is ahead of schedule in some respects and has already made his mark on the Stormers jersey, having scored a try in the 2021-22 Grand Final victory over the Bulls, the first major piece of silverware for the Western Cape outfit in their 26-year history.

All of his 13 appearances in that season came from the bench, which speaks to his ability to impact the game as a super sub in similar fashion to renowned Bok wrecking ball Malcolm Marx.

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Venter got his first taste of international rugby when he was called into the South Africa ‘A’ squad that travelled for matches against Munster and Bristol Bears in November 2022.

Dovetailing with Stormers teammate Joseph Dweba, he made his first appearance for the famed Barbarians in August against Samoa in Brive.

Now into his third season with the Stormers, Venter is primed to kick on to the next stage of his career and push for higher honours as he writes his own legend into rugby folklore.

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