VIDEO: The value Ruan Pienaar can still add to the Boks
If Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber is in need of an experienced utility back that won’t let his country down, he needs to look no further than Ruan Pienaar.
This is the view of Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie, as the Springboks’ latest alignment camp – ahead of the British and Irish Lions tour – came to its conclusion this week.
The Cheetahs coach was unwilling to commit to any players in his own team – outside the current squad members, Frans Steyn and Rosko Specman – who would add value to the Bok campaign against the B&I Lions in July and August.
However, he was not shy to sing the praises of the 37-year-old player that will be captaining his side against an Invitation XV in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Pienaar, capped 88 times between 2006 and 2015, featured at flyhalf in the first two Tests against the 2009 B&I Lions – matches the Boks won 26-21 in Durban and 28-25 in Pretoria, to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.
Pienaar started most of his Tests as a scrumhalf, but had plenty of starts at flyhalf and fullback as well.
It makes him a great option off the Bok bench.
“We all know that Ruan is still good enough to play there [for the Boks],” the Cheetahs coach said, pointing to Pienaar’s vast international experience and recent form as justification for his statement.
“I won’t be surprised if there are injuries and they press on his button,” Fourie said.
“Ruan has played in 88 Tests and is still capable to play at that level.”
Pienaar was initially reluctant to comment on his own prospects, but after some media prodding conceded that he will not hesitate if a call should ever come from the Bok coach.
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Should that happen, he will join a very rare club of Springboks who featured in two different Test series against the B&I Lions.
It happed a few times in the 1960s and 1970s.
Bok legends Dawie de Villiers, Mannetjies Roux and Frik du Preez played against the 1962 and 1968 British tourists.
Hannes Marais featured in the 1968 and 1974 series, Moaner van Heerden in the 1974 and 1980 series.
However, it has become a very rare occurrence since the game turned professional in the mid-1990s – with B&I Lions tours now only every 12 years to a specific country.
Pienaar’s Cheetahs teammate and two-time World Cup winner Frans Steyn, as well as Bulls flyhalf Morne Steyn look set to join the two-series club – although they will be the first to do it 12 years apart.
“For those two it will be massive,” Pienaar said, adding: “If you do get the call you will definitely accept it.
“I am just excited to see who they will select and we will support them [the Boks] no matter what.”