Benedict Chanakira did a Q&A with Springbok legend AJ Venter……
How are you AJ?
All good thank you
What are you doing these days?
I am in the Transport business, I own a few super links and sub for a large manufacturing company based in Pietermaritsburg. I am also involved with Supersport commentating on various rugby games.I have also decided to start studying again (Business Management).
From playing rugby to cross-country racing? Why?
I have made myself a bucket list, things to do that’s out there and dangerous. One of them was to do some kind of racing, I then met the guys at Regent racing owned by Terence Marsh and they asked if I want to co-drive for Terence in one of the national legs held in Mooi river. Ofcourse I said yes and I had an absolute blast!! In November I am going to Nepal to compete in the “World Elephant polo championship” , I am very much looking forward to that.
How did it feel against Wales in 2000?
I think that any rugby player in South Africa dreams to run out for your country, so that was the culmination of years of hard work. I can’t remember much of it, due to the hype and excitement of playing your first game for the Boks, but I am so privileged to have played that game and another 26 after that.
Having played for Sharks, Cheetahs, Lions and Stormers. Which side is closest to your heart?
It’s a very hard question to answer, I have fond memories of each of those provinces. I grew up in the Free State and so its close to my heart as my roots are there. My one year at the Lions was amazing because we were a young and unknown team and went on to win the Currie Cup in Durban that year (1999). I have spent my longest time as a player in Durban (10 years) and I still live here, I love this place and the the time spent at the Sharks. Lastly Western Province, who won’t love living in Cape Town it was a fantastic last season of my career and I have made a lot of friends there.
At home at lock, flank and number 8. What was your favorite position. Which suited you more?
When I was younger I preferred flank (7) and eigthman, it gave me a bit more freedom to express my rugby, as I got older and maybe a bit slower and wiser I started to enjoy lock a bit more.
Have you recovered from that heart-break in 2007 against the Blue Bulls? Any resentment towards the referee?
I can’t even remember that game (chuckles), ofcourse there is no resentment! We all do our best at all times, and the same goes for the referee.
How was Italy? You were one of the pioneers to playing abroad.
I absolutely love Italy, it was probably three of the best years of my rugby career. I have enjoyed living in Rovigo and I have made so many friends, I have also learned to speak Italian which was very important to me. And I love Italian food, wine, and ofcourse their woman.
The best player you have ever played with?
There were so many its impossible to mention, but for me it was very important to be with guys that just gave everything for the team and play at their hardest.
Who was the laziest player you have trained with?
(Giggles) No I cant answer this question.
Are you still involved in rugby? Giving back?
Yes I am helping at College Rovers, with the forwards.
In the current era. What is your Springbok XV?
Pieter S. du Toit-Etzebeth
Brussow(6)-Vermuelen-Willem Alberts (7)
Juan De Jong-De villiers
Habanna, JP Pietersen