Try-scoring Springbok replacement Ruan Pienaar has turned down a big money offer from cash-flush and ambitious French club Toulon, because he wants to specialise at No.9.
Pienaar, who came on at flyhalf in place of Butch James and scored a try during the final quarter of South Africa’s record-breaking 53-8 victory over Australia last Saturday, was at the top of Toulon’s wish list.
Toulon has also confirmed that it will not pursue the services of England’s World Cup-winning No.10, Jonny Wilkinson.
The club’s owner, comic book magnate Mourad Boudjellal, will now have to continue searching for a world class flyhalf, after his current crop – Sébastien Fauqué and Ramiro Pez – failed to live up to their pre-season promise.
It was confirmed, in a brief statement, that Toulon had indeed made Pienaar an offer, but the Sharks and Bok utility told the club’s coach, former All Black captain Tana Umaga, that he prefers to play at No.9.
“As a result we will not recruit him [Pienaar],” the statement said.
Pienaar, who has made it clear that he is looking to specialise at scrumhalf, is also on the shopping list of other unnamed French clubs, although the player is not looking to leave South Africa.
The nuggety No.9, who scored his fourth try in 24 Tests against the Wallabies last Saturday, made his Bok debut as a replacement against New Zealand in 2006 and has often been used as a utility off the bench – both at provincial and international level.
He burst onto the scene in 2005 and immediately set the rugby world alight. The son of former Springbok fullback Gysie Pienaar, Ruan is one of the most naturally-gifted players in the modern era, a versatile player equally at home in his familiar scrumhalf role as well as flyhalf and fullback.
He is now looking to get more game time at No.9 for the Sharks and in the process hopefully secure a more regular spot in the Bok squad.
Toulon, who initially chased the signature of star All Black Dan Carter, also confirmed that they are not going to sign Wilkinson.
“Further to the numerous rumours, Rugby Toulonnais deny in the strongest possible terms that it will sign Jonny Wilkinson to reinforce its flyhalf resources,” the club’s statement said.Tweet