Venter gets cracking with Springboks

Brendan Venter (Getty Images)
Brendan Venter (Getty Images)

Cape Town - The Springboks are hard at work in Stellenbosch with a training camp that is heavily focused on defence, and Brendan Venter is getting involved.

It was announced on Sunday that Venter would join the Boks as a defence and exit specialist in what is a crucial year for coach Allister Coetzee. 

The Boks lost eight of their 12 Tests in 2016, leading to huge doubt being placed on Coetzee and his position as head coach. 

But SA Rugby have backed him, and now Coetzee must plot the way forward with his first hurdle being three Tests against the French on home soil in June. 

He now has a backroom staff that he has assembled himself, with Mzwandile Stick replaced by Cheetahs coach Franco Smith as backline assistant, while Venter will now fill the role of defence coach. 

It was a position that gave Coetzee and the Boks grey hairs last year with Jacques Nienaber, Chean Roux and JP Ferreira all having shared the load throughout what was as woeful year for South African rugby. 

Venter was a defence consultant throughout Italy's winless 2017 Six Nations campaign, but now his attention is very much on the Boks despite his role still being fulfilled on a "consultancy" basis. 

Coetzee, who was in bright spirits in Stellenbosch on Monday, is pleased to have his man. 

"We share the same philosophies about the game. He wanted to come on board to work with me," Coetzee told media. 

"I think he can add a lot of value. He's been working overseas for a long time and he's got really good knowledge of building a defensive structure. I've got no doubt that he can make an impact."

The Bok coach ensured that Venter's commitments to his medical practice in Cape Town would not impact on his role with the Boks.

"When we're in camp he will always be there. He's never going to miss a session," said Coetzee.

"He will always be with us. One shouldn't forget that he is a medical practitioner, but he's been at every meeting until now and he will be at every training session as well. It's not a concern to me."

The camps - this is the second of the year for the Boks - are seeking to get all of the players on the same page in terms of playing philosophy and structure, Coetzee said. 

"It was a bit of chaos last year because of the number of defensive coaches that we had and we were under pressure," he said.

"We've got an opportunity now, which is what the camps are giving, to put those things in place. Hopefully by June our players would have heard it for the fourth or fifth time. It would be in place and then it comes down to execution. I'm confident there will be a big improvement.

"Last year we never had an opportunity to see the players before the Irish Tests. All international teams must have camps. There is a lot that needs to go into the planning to prepare a team."

The first camp, held in Johannesburg in early March, focused on set piece and attack while the ongoing camp in Stellenbosch is centred around set piece and defence.

The players met on Sunday and will have one final training session on Tuesday morning before returning to their Super Rugby franchises. 

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