Springbok Ruan Pienaar’s desire to focus on scrumhalf prompted the call to England flyhalf Andy Goode by the Sharks, according to coach John Plumtree.
Speaking to Rugby365.com, from the team’s Super 14 training base in Christchurch on Tuesday, Plumtree revealed that Pienaar had requested to play more often at No.9 and reduce his workload at flyhalf.
As a result the England No.10, Goode, will be introduced into the Super Rugby arena from the Sharks’ replacement bench against the Crusaders in a Round Three match on Friday.
Goode, who has joined the Sharks on a short-term Super 14 contract and has agreed to join up with Worcester Warriors for the start of the 2010/11 Guinness Premiership season, has already joined up with the South African franchise at the start of their five-match Australasian safari.
While Pienaar will start at No.10 this week, Goode will play a far more prominent role at flyhalf as the tour progress and Pienaar will concentrate on being a specialist scrumhalf.
“He is learning very quickly, slotting in very quickly and he is looking good,” Plumtree told Rugby365.com, when asked about the 29-year-old Goode – who has played 17 times for England.
Goode joined the Sharks after he had agreed to an early release from his contract with Brive in the French Top 14. He will join up with the Warriors mid-year, once he has completed his stint with the Sharks.
However, for the next three months his presence will allow Pienaar to play in his preferred No.9 jersey.
“We want to have the option of Ruan back at No.9, as Ruan wants to play at scrumhalf,” Plumtree said, adding that they needed an experienced head to help them steady the ship after a couple of early season defeats.
“Andy [Goode] will provide us with that, the experience we need [in the flyhalf channel],” the Sharks coach said, adding that it also gives them flexibility in that Pienaar can play No.9 and No.10 comfortably.
“However, the way the game is going [with the new breakdown law interpretation], when you are on the attack you need a No.9 with a real fast and long pass.
“That is Ruan’s game, so we are really keen to get Ruan into No.9.
“No disrespect to Rory [Kockott], but he doesn’t have the passing game of Ruan Pienaar and we need that in this game, the way the breakdown is speeding up – with the emphasis on getting the attack going really quickly before the defence has time to settle and this is something we are excited about … with Ruan playing at No.9.”
Pienaar’s decision to move to No.9 may not be as readily accepted by Bok coach Peter de Villiers, who still sees him as an option at flyhalf – even though he has been displaced by Morné Steyn at the top of the Bok No.10 pecking order.
But it is also not a surprise that Pienaar wishes to settle down in one position, having been shunted from pillar to post for most of his career.
In his 36 Tests, since his debut against New Zealand in 2006, he has started at scrumhalf (four Tests), flyhalf (six times), fullback (four games) and come off the replacement bench 22 times in various positions – even helping out on the wing.
Since he was overtaken by Steyn last year, Pienaar’s confidence levels have dropped and a return to his preferred scrumhalf spot may see him rediscover the magic that first saw him explode onto the international stage.
Article Courtesy of Jan De Koning at Rugby 365.Tweet