I'm ready to pack my bags, says Venter

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The Independent Online

Brendan Venter, forced yesterday to watch Saracens' thrilling 33-27 defeat to Leicester Tigers from the sofa at his St Albans home alongside his five-year-old son Joshua, has warned that he will leave English rugby if he is continually punished by the Rugby Football Union for what he views as being "too honest".

The former Springbok centre had been slapped with a 10-week ban by the Rugby Football Union after making "provocative and inappropriate gestures" to Tigers' supporters earlier this month, on a day that Sarries recorded their first win at Welford Road. That was the latest incident in a season in which Venter's club have deemed to have sailed too close to the wind. First there was the threat of loaning Springbok stars Schalk Burger and Brian Habana, a move that would have undermined the salary cap. Next, in early January, Venter criticised referee David Rose's performance in a home defeat to Tigers and was slapped with a suspended four-week ban.

That sentence was triggered following his invective aimed at Leicester fans on 8 May and when, at the RFU disciplinary hearing, he munched on the complimentary nibbles, that took the biscuit in the eyes of the authorities and the book was thrown at Venter, who in his first season at Saracens, therefore missed the biggest day in his club's history.

"It is just a matter of time before I pack my bags," Venter, a qualified physician who has a practice back in Cape Town, told The Independent on Sunday. "I'll just go home and I'll say, 'You know what, I give up'. Because I am not going to change, and that's the way it is. Before long I'll be back in that horrid hearing situation again, and it won't be intentional.

"I'm too honest and that is what complicates my life here, it's what gets me in trouble. For example, I didn't go to Leicester to make enemies – the fans swore at me. The point is I will react, that's how I am, but I don't choose to make enemies. It's hard for me to be anything different – that is my personality and ultimately the team does take on the coach's character, fortunately, or unfortunately."

With the 40-year-old at the helm, Saracens have adopted his headstrong attitude and it has eked out notable away victories over Northampton Saints and Tigers – and a home victory against South Africa in a friendly .

But Venter added: "What is happening at Saracens is just another chapter in our lives. I have the opinion that life is just a series of projects. When your project stops, there is something wrong with you and you become stale and then you die. When I feel that the time is right and the machine can function without me then I will just move on. Fortunately I have another life in South Africa and I will be going back to my practice."