In an interview with Steve Farrell of rugby365.com, Sharks scrumhalf-cum-flyhalf Ruan Pienaar is adamant he doesn’t want to full the role of supersub and wants to concentrate on one position to further his burgeoning career. Pienaar will be entrusted with running the show at flyhalf for the Sharks’ vital Super 14 showdown with the Chiefs on Saturday.
It’s a role that is new to the man who made his Springbok debut at No.9 against New Zealand in 2006, but many pundits have been calling for the 24-year-old to move to No.10.
Frederic Michalak’s knee injury against the Waratahs necessitated a change at No.10. Sharks coach Dick Muir opted for the multi-talented Pienaar to fulfil the role that many feel is his best position.
By his own admission Pienaar hasn’t had the best of season’s, yet he showed some quality touches in his team’s 33-14 win over the Cheetahs last Saturday. His return to form could be the tonic that sparks a Sharks revival and sees them through to the Super 14 semifinals.
The Bloemfontein-born Pienaar spoke exclusively to rugby365.com about his new role in the backline and the impending clash with the Chiefs.
Pienaar made it clear that he wanted to focus on one position, whether it be No.9 or No.10.
“It’s still new playing at No.10 but I’m enjoying it,” he said.
“There’s still lots to learn and improve on.
“I haven’t had the best season this year so it’s been a bit of a disappointment for me,” he added.
Asked whether he would prefer to play scrumhalf or flyhalf, Pienaar was still in two minds as to which position he preferred. He did however make it clear that he didn’t want to become the next Brent Russell of South Africa – a jack of all trades but master of none.
“You never know, if it goes well at flyhalf I wouldn’t mind playing there,” said Pienaar.
“It’s a nice position. But I also enjoy No.9. I’d like to settle in one position. I don’t want to be in that supersub league again,” Pienaar made it clear.
Pienaar has played at fullback and wing for South Africa, but said that his continual shift throughout the backline has been detrimental to his career so far.
“Playing fullback then wing was frustrating,” she said.
“It might have been a bit of a disruption for me. I haven’t played a full game at scrumhalf since last year’s Tri-Nations,” added the talented back.
Looking ahead to the clash with the Chiefs, Pienaar said that his team were distinctly better off than two years ago when they had their hearts broken by the Bulls.
That year, the Sharks were all but in the play-offs until the Bulls, playing in the final game of the round-robin stages, thrashed the Stormers 43-10 to sneak into the top four by virtue of a superior points difference to that of the Sharks.
The fact that the Sharks will be playing in the final round-robin game will make a similar scenario impossible. The Sharks will have their destiny in their own hands by the time kick-off arrives in Durban.
“Two years ago we played first and were in the same position but the Bulls gave the Stormers a bit of a hiding at Newlands,” said Pienaar, referring to that game in Cape Town.
“That knocked us out of the semis. This year we are in a different position knowing what we have to do so it’s better than two years ago.
“But we didn’t want to end up like this having to rely on other teams.
“Hopefully the Waratahs and Hurricanes can lose, then we will still be in with a chance of coming second,” added the hopeful Pienaar.
The Chiefs have had an up-and-down season this year. They lost three of their first five games, before winning five on the trot. Two subsequent losses mean their semifinal aspirations are hanging by a thread.
Pienaar pointed to the unpredictability of the Hamilton-based outfit but admitted the Sharks were in for a huge battle on Saturday.
“We need to focus on our own game,” said Pienaar.
“They’re [the Chiefs] are a very unpredictable side, but they’ve played very good rugby this season.
“They will be disappointed with their loss to the Lions and will come out all guns blazing.
“They also want to make the semis so it won’t be an easy game. It’s going to be one of the toughest game of the season. They are a quality side so we going to have to go out there and get the points,” added a confident sounding Pienaar.
Pienaar’s opposite number on Saturday, Stephen Donald, is the tournament’s highest points scorer this year. He has scored 143 points and his being mentioned as a possible All Black candidate with the departure of Nick Evans and possibly Dan Carter at the end of the year.
Pienaar sees this as a challenge and is relishing going head-to-head with the in-form Donald.
“It’s a new test for me,” he said of his clash with the Chiefs pivot.
“He’s played pretty good rugby this whole season, as well as the years before that. It’s a big test for me and I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully it goes well,” he added.
Springbok coach Peter de Villiers will announce his first squad of his coaching tenure on Saturday, but he will not include any players involved in the Super 14 semifinals.
Pienaar was aware of the announcement but played down the influence it might have for any Springbok hopefuls in the Sharks camp.
“Anything can happen, it’s not in our hands,” he said of the Springbok announcement.
‘We just want to do well for the Sharks this week. [We're] still fighting to make the semis so that’s a huge aim for us this year. Hopefully we can make it back into the top four and hopefully make it to the Final again.
“So I think everyone’s focus will be on Saturday’s game,” concluded the gifted Sharks utility.
Pienaar will be hoping that De Villiers excludes all Sharks players for at least another week as they fight for those hotly contested second, third and fourth places on the log.Tweet