Ven­ter out to heal Boks

France will show whether he can re­sus­ci­tate de­fence of Coet­zee’s men

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - VATA NGOBENI

IS BREN­DAN Ven­ter the right doc­tor to cure the Spring­boks de­fen­sive ail­ments?

The an­swer to that ques­tion will only be re­vealed once the Boks take on France in the open­ing Test at Lof­tus Vers­feld on Satur­day.

A med­i­cal doc­tor by pro­fes­sion and a for­mer Spring­bok cen­tre, Ven­ter was at the heart of di­ag­nos­ing the weak­nesses of the Spring­boks de­fence last year as he was one of the mas­ter­minds be­hind Italy’s his­toric and maiden Test win against the South Africans.

Ven­ter now takes over the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of mak­ing sure that the leaky Spring­bok de­fence is up to stan­dard and can re­main wa­ter tight af­ter the na­tional team’s worst sea­sons ever last year.

The much trav­elled Ven­ter is the fourth de­fence coach since Al­lis­ter Coet­zee took over the reins of a year ago and Ven­ter will have to do what Jac­ques Nien­aber, Chean Roux and JP Fer­reira couldn’t in turn­ing one of the worst de­fen­sive sides in the world, to the best.

“Bren­dan is a world class coach and he brings a wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence. He has been pri­mar­ily fo­cused on North­ern Hemi­sphere rugby and we face more than 50 per­cent of our games this year against North­ern Hemi­sphere op­po­si­tion.

“He is a very pas­sion­ate guy, this is the first time I’ve worked with him, and I re­ally en­joyed the work ethic that he brings. But it is not about one coach but all of our coaches to­gether. “The most im­por­tant thing is that the team have to buy into the plan that we put on the ta­ble and the play­ers have been ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic. The vibe and com­pli­ments that the coaches are get­ting from the play­ers are pretty spe­cial at this stage and it is great to have great coaches on board,” said Bok as­sis­tant coach Jo­hann van Graan.

But can Ven­ter turn the de­fen­sive mis­fits into a world class wall and will Ven­ter be able to last the full mile, at least un­til the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Ja­pan?

Ven­ter is renowned for his no­madic ten­den­cies and his lack of stay­ing power at one team.

The 47-year-old Ven­ter has worked in patches at English clubs Lon­don Ir­ish and Sara­cens, while he was also a con­sul­tant at the Sharks in 2013 but it was his short but suc­cess­ful stint with the Az­zurri that would have prob­a­bly con­vinced Coet­zee that Ven­ter is the right man in the Spring­boks dark­est hour.

For­mer Spring­bok de­fence coach John McFar­land be­lieves that Ven­ter’s knowl­edge of the game and his at­ten­tion to de­tail will add value to the na­tional team.

“I’ve known Bren­dan for a long time and he is a very good coach. He is a very knowl­edge­able man and will be a good ad­di­tion to the Boks,” said McFar­land who was in­tro­duced to South African rugby by Ven­ter when they worked to­gether at Lon­don Ir­ish.

For all of Ven­ter’s knowl­edge and ac­u­men espe­cially with bring­ing some­thing from the left field to his de­fen­sive plans, it could all come to noth­ing if he doesn’t stay the dis­tance and see the Spring­boks to the World Cup in two years’ time.

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