Venter slams player agents

Brendan Venter believes agents associated with national players are partially to blame for the Springboks' decline.

This comes after centre Jan Serfontein turned down a 'tripartite deal' from SA Rugby and the Bulls and asked for permission to negotiate an offer abroad.

At the time, Venter launched a scathing attack via Twitter on the role agents play as top local players continue to head abroad.

Venter addressed the issue again in his latest column for The Times, saying agents angled for overseas moves for their clients so they could earn more commission.

'Like administrators, coaches and players, agents earn a salary for services rendered. But there is an unfortunate complexity that comes into play that calls agents' objectivity into question. If a player earns R6-million in South Africa, he pockets R3-million from his union and a further R3-million from SA Rugby.

'Agents take commission on the players' earnings at club level, but not at national team level, which creates the crisis. The constant refrain from agents is that they are doing what is best for the players. However, the bottom line is that, when money is involved, objectivity goes out the window. If the recent cases were not about money why not send out a press release explaining why young players leave the country at the peak of their powers?

'For instance, nobody can hold it against CJ Stander for heading to Ireland in 2012 because he was told he was third in line at the Bulls. Stander has since forged a brilliant career with Munster and Ireland.

'However, I take issue with talented young players in their prime, already identified for future honours, leaving our shores. Bok supporters are justifiably desperate to see the team's results getting better. So, it is a real pity that there are agents in South Africa who don't care about our rugby – who are more concerned with lining their pockets.

'We love to blame SA Rugby when positive results are not forthcoming or talented players are lost to the system. Maybe it is time to finger the real culprits.'

Serfontein's agent, Gerrie Swart, dismissed Venter's claims.

'His opinion in this case is, with due respect, not of an expert nature and has to be judged in that regard. It is based on incorrect conclusions. But we wish him constant and continued success in his newest role and view the matter as closed,' he told Netwerk24.

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Photo: Anne Laing/HM Images

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Mariette Adams