Big Shark staying in the Tank


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While there is a desperate scramble on to stop the raid on South Africa’s senior playing resources, the Sharks have managed to close the net on one of their most influential players – utility forward AJ Venter.

The Sharks confirmed on Wednesday that the 33-year-old Venter, a 25-cap Springbok, has re-signed with the Sharks until the conclusion of the 2008 Super 14 season.

A veteran of eight seasons with the Sharks, dating back to 2000 when he signed from the Lions, and with 84 Super rugby and 48 Currie Cup caps for the Sharks, his wealth of experience and leadership were the key factors for a Sharks team likely to lose other senior stars like John Smit, BJ Botha and Percy Montgomery.

Venter’s role, especially in the 2007 Super 14 campaign when the Sharks finished the round stages in first position and lost the Final to an injury-time Bulls try, was extremely valuable. He played in 14 of the Sharks’ 15 matches of the tournament.

He also joined a select group of centurions, taking his overall tally of Super Rugby caps to 103. His leadership also saw him captaining the Sharks in the seven matches he played in the 2006 Currie Cup season.

“I did plan to retire at the end of this Super 14,” Venter said in an interview on the Sharks website.

“However, the lure of success with the Sharks is just to great to pass up. Like everyone else, I was deeply disappointed that we lost in the final, when we really were the form team.”

His contract is for the next 12 months, including the Currie Cup.

“The most important thing is for me to get into training, get fit and involved for the Currie Cup. We have put the Super 14 behind us and I am now concentrating on the Currie Cup, taking it one goal at a time. We have a brilliant team and I’m looking forward to being a part of the setup.

“There are some good players in the team, and the primary goal is to be successful.”

Sharks (Pty) Ltd CEO Brian van Zyl added that he was thrilled that Venter would be remaining with the Sharks.

“It is a big signing for us to keep AJ on for a further year,” Van Zyl said.

“He really has been a mainstay in our side, and brings that unique quality of experience that simply cannot be bought. We look forward to having him around, both as a player and as a leader, and believe that he adds positively to the team dynamic.”


365 Digital

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