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Boan Venter confident Edinburgh’s title charge won’t falter due to Six Nations call-offs

EDINBURGH may be still top of the table despite the 23-19 defeat at Ospreys, but with five of their next six games away from home they know they will need to be better to maintain their title challenge.

Hat-trick scoring prop Boan Venter will be one of the key experienced players during the Six Nations period when the leading internationals are away, but he has no doubt they have enough quality remaining under coach Mike Blair.

“I’m quite excited about the guys stepping up and stepping into the starting jersey with guys being absent with the Scotland squad,” he said. “They bring massive energy to the group and with their skill- set, that’s definitely something to get excited about.

“It is quite important for the more experienced guys to put up their hands and put in a good shift.

“I think we have really good depth this season and the way Mike is handling it, I think everybody that comes into the team knows exactly what to do. I believe we can definitely go all the way.”

Edinburgh’s next two games are away in Leinster and Munster. While it is a good time to face those two teams with their Ireland call-ups, Connacht in Edinburgh after that will be nearer to fully loaded.

If Edinburgh and Glasgow can maintain their form, then their clash could be a top-of-the-table duel, while the capital side head to South Africa straight after the Six Nations and will have a decision to make about which Scotland stars to take.

So the next few weeks will certainly provide a variety of coaching challenges, but Blair is looking forward to that.

“We have guys who want to play rugby, we talk about our guys needing to play rugby and they will get that opportunity,” he said. “I expect real growth in the young guys coming through from getting game time. I am looking forward to this period with the internationals away.”

Blair was right to point to poor execution rather than anything more worrying in this defeat to the Ospreys.

Three key moments could have changed the result: lock Glenn Young looking to pass instead of going for the line, outside half Jaco van der Walt having a conversion charged down and wing Emiliano Boffelli missing a penalty kick to the corner.

That is not to point the finger of blame, but to illustrate how easily Edinburgh could have come away from Swansea with a first win since 2009.

Key to that was Venter’s hat- trick, two from around a yard out, but the middle try involved something that approached a side-step, shrugging off two or three tacklers and a definite dummy – the stuff for any prop to describe to grandchildren.

“It’s the first time it’s happened to me in my professional career, so it’s quite nice. But it sucks being on the losing side. We’re gutted about that,” said Venter about his hat-trick. “I think it’s a bit of both being at the right time in the right place and just the guys getting on the front foot.

“I think all the guys showed great fight throughout the game and it’s a pity we didn’t put it through.”

He is looking forward to the challenge of playing the likes of Leinster and Munster next.

“Those are the games that you look forward to, because they’re the ones that you know you can measure yourself in,” he said. “To be the best you have to beat the best. At the end of the day that’s what we play this game for – to better yourself, to better the team and play for the guy next to you.”

Edinburgh have a strong South African group in their front row, with the likes of WP Nel and Pierre Schoeman becoming key players for Scotland as well, but Venter is not looking to join them any time soon.

When asked if he had a Scottish granny tucked away, he replied: “Not that I know of. I think qualifying on residency will be in about four years. I don’t like looking too far forward. I feel if your eyes are out there you stub your toe on something. The future will sort itself out.”

Maybe the same could be said about Edinburgh’s next few games.

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