In what will be the first of many interviews with some unique personalities across the school rugby scene, the NextGenRugga team recently had a chat with Paul Roos’ star center Jordan Venter.
Jordan, thanks for taking the time to have a chat with us. Its been an eventful few months for you, so lets start at the beginning. Where did your rugby career start and have you always been a center?
I basically started my rugby in the town of George, so the SWD district. I was in Outeniqua Primary and played my rugby there. I moved from 8th man, to wing and now center! I played for SWD u/13 side and then played for the 7’s team as well. I guess I decided to come to the Cape Town or better put Stellenbosch to really develop my rugby and test myself against the best. And the fact that the high schools were very prestigious and overall excellent.
Things have slowed down due to the Corona Virus, what impact has this had on your teams plans for the season ahead?
I guess nothing really much, we kinda see it as a good thing so we can all get back into building and bettering things that we didn’t have time to in preseason. So hopefully the lads take this time to train super hard and come back well trained and prepared.
What are your personal goals for the upcoming season when it kicks off again?
I guess just to enjoy my last bit of high school rugby and try play the best rugby I possibly can. I would love to give the Craven Week a go and represent WP. So I’m excited to see where this season goes, and I guess I just want to better all my small areas of the game.
National headlines were made when you signed for Edinburgh, most of the youngsters have chosen to head to France. What made you choose Scotland?
Good question. I guess I’ve never had the idea of France in my head or thought about ever going there. When I was a young lad around about 12 I dreamed of playing rugby in the UK. Then the opportunity arose that I could go to Scotland and play some rugby at an exceptional and old heritage club. It was a given. The opportunity and chance was just to big, so I took it and I haven’t looked back since. And I guess the lifestyle and the way rugby is transitioning up north is really amazing. And overall I guess life is an adventure and rugby can take you to many special places.
For the youngsters looking to head overseas can you just go through briefly how the whole process worked?
Well I guess the traditional way is having an agent and telling them that you seek to play somewhere overseas. But my route was a bit different, as I don’t have an agent and don’t need one for now. The biggest tip I can give to younger players is that they should promote themselves as much as possible on social media. Get clips from your games and put them in a small video. And get them onto social media. And I guess the last thing involves luck. Hopefully someone sees it at the right time right place type of thing.
Do you have long term goals to represent Scotland internationally? Or do you still have ambitions to put on the green and gold jersey?
Good question, I haven’t really thought that far. But what I can say is that I’m open to any opportunity. I guess it’s every boys dream to represent the green and gold, but I want to achieve the highest accolades in my rugby career and if that is representing Scotland, then so be it.
Who would you say has been the biggest influence on your rugby career?
Most definitely my father, who undoubtedly pushes me to every extent he possibly can. And my grade 7 coach, Chaarl Kitching, that believed in me and gave me the passion and hope in playing center.
Who do you look up to as a young rugby player? Is there anyone you model your game after?
Most likely Dan Carter or Richie McCaw, and Sonny Bill – amazing players on and off the field which is so important. I definitely model my game around sonny bill and Sam Burgess both NRL players and union players. I enjoy the physicality they bring and I try to model that in my game as well.
Do you have an pre-game rituals or superstitions? If not how do you prepare yourself for a big game?
For me it already starts the day before the game. What I do in the evening before the game is important for me. I try to play scenes in my head in the evening when I’m in bed with what I can do and things like that. And on game day I’m super serious and try my best to focus on the game by listening to music and watching big hits on YouTube.
What would you say has been the highlight of your school rugby career so far?
Playing rugby in Japan, was absolutely unreal scenes and representing the springboks for the sevens in the Namibia tournament.
Are there any youngsters at Paul Roos who we should be keeping an eye on from the lower age groups?
Yeah for sure, Tristan van Dyk and Jared Africa. Keep an eye out on them this year and next year
Finally what advice do you have for younger players looking to follow in your footsteps?
To lads that want to get to the very top. Don’t stop working, and I mean it. Put in those extra sessions in every aspect, gyming, passing, running. Whatever you can do. Create an idea of what you want and where you want to go, and always remind yourself about it. And lastly make sacrifices.. and never give up.
My last meal ever would be: Chicken pesto pasta with feta
If I could meet one person on earth it would be: Bill Gates
My favourite music is: House music/ acoustic music
If I wasn’t pursuing a career in rugby I would: Most likely work as a financial advisor or analyst in an investment company or open my own company eventually
A position I would never want to play: Prop