CHEETAHS prop Boan Venter has signed a two-and-a-half-year deal with Edinburgh, according to reports in South Africa. The 23-year-old winger will join Richard Cockerill’s squad in February to deputize for him during the Six Nations Championship if the deal is confirmed.
Edinburgh, if all players are available, is well-staffed in this role. For the number one jersey, Rory Sutherland and Pierre Schoeman are competing and Jamie Bhatti and Sam Grahamslaw are backups. But Bhatti was permitted to leave with immediate effect for Bath last week, while Sutherland is Scotland’s first preference and will therefore be absent for most of February and March. And at 21, Grahamslaw is not ready to start a run of games yet, having made just three appearances so far from the bench.
The need for at least one new signing in that role is all the more urgent since, after three years in Scotland, Schoeman will be eligible to play in the summer. It should be quick for Venter, who has also been courted by Leicester and Gloucester, to fit into an Edinburgh team that already includes a number of his compatriots.
Over the past three seasons, the Cheetahs and their South African compatriots, the Southern Kings, have participated in the PRO14 but were unable to compete when the competition resumed after being suspended this fall due to travel restrictions associated with Covid. The Kings are now out of the PRO14 for an extended time with the announcement last week of the new Rainbow Cup, which will see four more South African teams – the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers – competing with the existing 12 teams in the PRO14.
The Rainbow Cup is seen as a precursor to the complete incorporation into the PRO14 of those four clubs, which from the 2021-22 season will be called PRO16. Edinburgh has refused to comment on stories connecting Venter to them.