The Sharks’ Springbok back Ruan Pienaar has never been shy to express his fondness for the No.9 jersey, but even he admits that he has doubts about what direction to take in the future.
Jan De Koning writes for Rugby 365 that Pienaar, often seen and used as a utility by coaches at both provincial and international level, said he is enjoying spending a bit more time at scrumhalf in the Currie Cup competition.
However, there is a clamour for him to specialise at No.10 to add some much needed depth in the troubled flyhalf spot in the Springbok team.
In his 24 Tests, since his debut in 2006, Pienaar has started at scrumhalf in only four of those, starting twice at fullback and coming on as a replacement in a the other 18 – often as flyhalf. He scored a brilliant try from flyhalf in his last Test outing – a 53-8 rout of Australia in Johannesburg last month.
“Yes, I do enjoy flyhalf, but I prefer No.9,” Pienaar told rugby365.com, just days after playing in the No.10 Sharks jersey in their 44-14 Currie Cup win over the Falcons at the weekend.
Having appeared at scrumhalf in three of the Sharks’ four previous games, with French great Frederic Michalak as his halfback partner, he has been enjoying the extra time at scrumhalf.
“Some people do see me as a flyhalf and some see me as a scrumhalf,” he said, adding that it is a question that comes up constantly.
“I am a little confused about where I should play in the future.
“It is really great to be involved with the Springboks, but it all depends on what happens on the field where I go.
“I do enjoy being back at No.9 [for the Sharks] and I haven’t played a lot there in the past year, so the last few games in the Currie Cup where I played at No.9 I really enjoyed it.
“Hopefully I can get some more game time at scrumhalf, and at this stage I do feel it [No.9] is my best position. As I said I am a touch confused as to what I should do, but I do enjoy my time at No.9 more.”
Pienaar, who like all the World Cup Springboks, were withdrawn from last year’s Currie Cup competition to prepare for the global showpiece in France, said it is “great” to be back at the Sharks.
“It is nice to play Currie Cup rugby, because it’s been a while  since I have played Currie Cup rugby. For me it is great just to get some game time again.”
He also dismissed the notion that “burnout” could be a factor for him, adding that the lure of the Currie Cup is as strong as ever for the players from the national team.
“It is a long season and we do play a lot of rugby, but this is the competition that everybody want to win and want to be part of. It is just great to be involved, and hopefully in the semifinals we can do well and get into the Final,” Pienaar said, pointing out that like all the current Sharks he has never been part of a Currie Cup-winning team – with the Durban-based team’s last taste of glory having been 13 years ago.
“I have never been part of a Currie Cup-winning team, so if it can happen this year or the next few years it will be great to be part of it.”
With the ever-improving Lions looming large this week, described Saturday’s trip to Johannesburg as a “big” game and a good test for them ahead of the semifinals.
“The Lions also have a lot to play for … they can also still get a home semifinal, not to mention that they haven’t secured their play-off spot, so there is plenty to play for.”
With the Sharks having already booked their place in the play-offs, they are now hoping to secure home ground advantage in the semifinals and a possible Final and victory against the Lions will go a long way towards securing that goal.
“It is both important to win and to start getting your game plan in place for the play-offs,” Pienaar said, when asked about the team’s goals for this week.
“The win is important to build confidence ahead of the semifinals, and then it is an opportunity to try a few things and get our game in place.”
He also spoke of the challenge of facing the Lions on their home ground in Johannesburg.
“We know that the Lions will come with a big effort to win the game, so we will have to be at our best to come away with a win.
“The Lions are playing some great rugby and have toppled a number of the big teams this year. There is no doubt it will be a very tough game.”Tweet