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England qualified South African centre Jordan Venter to make Bath debut

By Ian Cameron
Edinburgh's Jordan Venter is tackled during a friendly match between Edinburgh Rugby and Newcastle Falcons at Edinburgh Rugby Stadium, on September 11, 2021, in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Bruce White/SNS Group via Getty Images)

England qualified South African born centre Jordan Venter is to set to make his debut for Bath this weekend against Bristol Bears in the Premiership Rugby Cup.

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Venter joined from Edinburgh on December 21 and earned minutes in the Championship with Ampthill last weekend.

He is English-qualified through his grandparents. Venter was a highly rated South African schoolboy player with Paul Roos Gymnasium who was originally brought to Scotland at 18 as a potential project player.

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He effectively turned his back on that Scottish qualification through residency in December, when he signed for Bath after a relatively limited amount of playing time at Edinburgh.

“I have massive goals to play international rugby and if it is with Scotland and that opportunity comes, then so be it,” Venter told RugbyPass in 2020. “As a South African boy, I feel like Scotland maybe lacks a bit of competition. Scottish Rugby are trying to build that up by getting in younger players. There will be maybe six other centres and guys in the semi-pro Super6 on my tail that want my spot and that competition is really healthy.

“The first instinct of the supporters will be oh, some guy has just taken a home-grown player’s place. People aren’t going to like it. If I was a young lad and some guy has came from overseas and took away my position I’d be like, woah, why can’t that be me? What can I do to get there? What has he done that I haven’t? I do feel bad, but at the end of the day, it’s a career, it’s a job, and I’ve worked my ass off to get there.”

Homegrown back row Mackenzie Graham will also make his debut. Graham is a Beechen Cliff School graduate who has been in the Bath pathway system since the age of 13.

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He is in a back row alongside fellow Senior Academy forward Nahum Mergian and Richard de Carpentier.

BATH TEAM: 15 Darren Atkins, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Jordan Venter, 12 Max Ojomoh, 11 Gabriel Hamer-Webb, 10 Orlando Bailey ©, 9 Joe Simpson; 1 Lewis Boyce, 2 Tom Doughty, 3 Ma’afu Fia, 4 Will Spencer, 5 Josh Dingley, 6 Mackenzie Graham, 7 Richard de Carpentier, 8 Nahum Merigan

REPLACEMENTS: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Arthur Cordwell, 18 Kieran Verden, 19 Valery Morozov, 20 Harry Casson, 21 Ollie Fox, 22 George Worboys, 23 Will Butt

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Jon 5 hours ago
British & Irish Lions free agent open to Super Rugby switch

There are a couple of teams who could use a stop gap experienced head. Blues - I’m not sure the Blues have signed a replacement for Caleb Tangitau (if he hasn’t been let go to make room for Barrett) yet, or whether Reiko is going on sabbatical and/or will remain in the squad. With exciting young French player Xavi Taele looking destined for higher honors in black, talented breakthrough rookie Cory Evan’s, and a couple of utilities, in AJ Lam and Bryce Heem(even Clarke?), all trying to learn the midfield trade, Williams could be a great aid. The Blues signed key English center Joe Marchant before he was raised to that level, and were possibly in the hunt to bring back the dependable Tele’a from the Highlanders. Possible the main squeeze which would put to bed any signing here would be the battle at 10 with Beauden’s return, and the forcing of Plummer back into the midfield. Hurricanes - Jordie Barrett is off to Leinster for a sabbatical next year but the more likely signing would be Billy’s brother back in the team. The Hurricanes are light on the outside with the loss of Salesi Rayasi to the Top 14 and if no quality is found to back up Kini Naholo, the midfield of Sullivan or Proctors could find themselves on the wing and space for a leader to show the Hurricanes three All Black midfield hopefuls (Higgins, Proctor, Umaga-Jensen) how its done. Highlanders - Rotation is high as usual at the Highlanders and versatility remains a strength with a lot of the squad. With compatriot Rhys Patchell signing a move to the JRLO, the passing of outside back Connor Garden-Bachop, and confirmed departure of Argentine wing Martin Bogado, the versatility of many of the young backups in the squad could see a veteran 12 like Williams being a strong partner for the robust Tele’a. With hope that the other Umaga-Jensen brother can force him out of the starting lineup, and shifting the sides general Sam Gilbert back into 10, the off-contract midfielder might seen as the perfect option for a squad still looking to fill one back spot.

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