Ruan Pienaar has represented Ulster the same amount of times that he has played for South Africa – 80 times. The knee injury that he sustained against the All Blacks in the summer has meant that he has not been able to add to his tally for either province or country in recent months. However, he says that his return to play is edging closer:
“I think the rehab is going well,” said Ruan Pienaar. “I would have liked to have been back playing now. I have started running, changing direction and that sort of thing.
“Hopefully I will be back in the next couple of weeks. I am really positive about being involved next weekend (December 6) for that first Scarlets game. I’ll train hard this week, do all the rehab and hopefully I will be back soon.”
While not playing he has had time to watch plenty of rugby. It is likely that he would have been involved in the Ireland v South Africa game if he had been fit. Despite the disappointment of seeing his fellow countrymen lose at the Aviva Stadium, he has been impressed with Ireland’s recent performances.
“Ireland really played well in the autumn internationals. They really deserved their wins, especially against Australia and South Africa. No one gave them a chance against South Africa and that gave them massive motivation to perform well and that is exactly what they did.
“I think they will definitely be challengers for the World Cup next year. I think it is difficult to say who will be favourites for that competition. It will be very interesting.”
Just as he has been impressed with Ireland’s players, he is also full of praise for their head coach Joe Schmidt.
“I think Joe Schmidt is a really clever coach. You can see what he did for Leinster and he has everyone working hard for Ireland and going in the same direction,” added the Springbok.
“I think that all a team needs is the backing of a coach. Technically, he is really good and everyone is buying in to what he is trying to achieve on the pitch.”
Pienaar was at Kingspan Stadium last Friday night to see Ulster inflict a first defeat of the season on the GUINNESS PRO12 leaders, the Ospreys – a result that he believes will be a significant boost to the squad going into Friday’s interprovincial clash against Munster.
“The Ospreys performance was great. To get a win against a good Ospreys team was fantastic as was not giving them a point.
“I think everyone is looking forward to this week and to the game against Munster. It’s a massive test, it’s an interpro and hopefully we can get a result down there (in Limerick).”