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Rugby

Big mates from Bloem could square off in North-South derby

───   MORGAN PIEK 10:06 Wed, 28 Feb 2024

Big mates from Bloem could square off in North-South derby | News Article
André-Hugo Venter - BackpagePix

“We've come a long way together - he's moved a few positions, I've moved from flank to hooker, and in our matric year, we played together as loosehead and hooker, as well as at South African Schools and Junior Springboks.

The North-South derby will be the pick of the weekend’s United Rugby Championship action and the winner of this game in Pretoria will most likely win the South African shield.

There could be an interesting battle on the cards at hooker with André-Hugo Venter playing for the Stormers, while Jan-Hendrik Wessels could play for the Bulls.

Venter is almost guaranteed to start for the Stormers, whereas Wessels may play second-fiddle to Akker van der Merwe. It remains to be seen what the Bulls match-23 looks like.

The two were both recently invited to the Springbok alignment camp, but their history goes further back as they went through the ranks at Grey College and are also good friends.

Venter, who is the son of the Springbok and Free State legend, André Venter, told OFM Sport that while they are good mates, on the field it’s all about business.

“We played together since Grade 5, what's that, from 11 years old?,” said Venter.

“We've come a long way together - he's moved a few positions, I've moved from flank to hooker, and in our matric year, we played together as loosehead and hooker, as well as at South African Schools and Junior Springboks.

“We're actually good friends but at the end of the day, between those four lines on the field, you don't have friends on the other team.

“There's always that battle, but it's nothing unprofessional with any pushing or shoving. You want to prove your point and prove you're better than each other. I'm looking forward to it.”

How far the pair get regarding the Springboks this year also remains to be seen. Grey College has not produced a Springbok since the centre Francois Venter who made his international debut back in 2016. But that can change this year.

Should either of both of them become Springboks, they will become part on an elite club of hookers to hail from the famous rugby factory. In recent times they have included the like of Bismarck du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Naka Drotské and Charl Marais.

Saturday’s big game at Loftus Versfeld kicks off at 17:05.

Morgan Piek OFM Sport

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