Stormers slugger spearheads golden generation
SPOTLIGHT: The unsung hero of last season’s title win, Andre-Hugo Venter has all the ability to establish himself as a regular in the Stormers’ starting line-up in the 2022-23 United Rugby Championship.
The son of legendary Springbok hardman Andre Venter, Andre-Hugo has shown a maturity beyond his years and featured prominently at the business-end of the URC, scoring a try in the grand final against the Bulls.
His form was rewarded with a contract extension at the end of the season and he will look to build on the momentum into the new campaign.
Venter only recently turned 21, but his potential was seen at an early age and cultivated at the rugby academy that is Grey College, where he played alongside Jan-Hendrik Wessels and George Cronje.
After school, Venter enjoyed a highly impressive debut Varsity Cup season in 2021, notably scoring four tries in one game against the University of the Western Cape.
A call-up and professional debut for the Stormers soon followed, when Venter came off the bench against the Bulls in the Rainbow Cup match in 2021.
Andre Venter is 1.96m, 103kgs and played the majority of 66 Test matches as a tireless blindside flank. Andre-Hugo is 1.87m, 106kgs and a slugger in the front row, but he makes good on the family name in terms of his work ethic.
“You can’t really see his dad ever playing hooker,” said coach John Dobson when handing Andre-Hugo a Stormers debut last season. “But he’s the hooker version of his dad – tough, high speed, high aggression, intense work-rate, very competitive.”
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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 playing surface, he morphs into a fearless competitor with a never-say-die attitude.
A ferocious ball-carrier with a surprising turn of speed that is on display whenever he spots a gap, Venter also takes great pride in playing defence and he boasted a 94 percent tackle success rate in the URC last season.
All of his 13 appearances last season came from the bench, which speaks to his ability to impact the game as a super-sub.
Venter is part of a golden generation of young Stormers players, alongside the likes of Sacha Mngomezulu, Suleiman Hartzenberg and Connor Evans, who will aim to take major strides in their careers this season – an exciting prospect for the Cape Town faithful.
Photo Credit: Inpho Photography