You know, it’s not often that I’m so happy to be proved wrong!
I’ve written a fair bit about Ruan Pienaar recently and in one case, was particularly harsh on a perceived ultimatum from his side. As you’ll all remember, there seemed to be an open threat from Pienaar to the Sharks management a few months ago: “pick me at scrumhalf or I’ll leave”. At the time, it seemed a pretty bold thing to say, given that Rory Kockott was deservedly the first choice number 9 in Durban and that Pienaar’s form had been flaky up until that point.
My goodness, but has Ruan Pienaar ever stepped up to the plate, though; so much so that I have now devoured all three of my hats and am desperately shopping for a new one! A slightly fortuitous injury to Kockott (can an injury ever be seen that way?) has seen Pienaar re-established as the Sharks’ first-choice scrummy and the continuity of selection that has seen him start regularly there has done wonders for his game.
Pienaar, much more than the Sharks’ first choice has already established himself as the form scrumhalf in the country, this a mere two months after all and sundry (including me) had written off his chances of ever making it big in the number nine jersey. I still think he’d make an amazing flyhalf, but you just can’t dispute the difference an extended run in his favourite position, has made to his game.
He is running, passing and kicking with a sureness that belies his maverick nature and his goalkicking is out of the top-drawer. Decision-making under pressure is now the most potent weapon in Pienaar’s arsenal and his once-shaky defence is now rock-solid. Pienaar has turned his game around and is now the epitome of the complete modern scrumhalf and when the Sharks win the Currie Cup in two weeks’ time, don’t be too surprised to find that it’s Ruan Pienaar who has put in a match-winning touch to clinch it for them.