Ruan Pienaar put in the sort of performance on Saturday that should confound his critics and once again open up the debate about which position suits his skills best. Those seeking to reinstate Pienaar at flyhalf on a permanent basis are missing the point, though.
Thing is, Pienaar is a superbly talented rugby player and always has been. Written off as ‘overrated’ by at least one punter on this site, the maverick Sharks delivered a breathtaking display of flyhalf play that completely overshadowed the dog’s breakfast dished up by opponent Peter Grant. It was on the basis of showings like this that Pienaar won the Bok flyhalf jersey in 2008 and certainly on the weekend’s form alone is clearly the best pivot in the land.
Problem is, though, you never really know what you’re going to get with Pienaar. While my personal feeling is that he’s never delivered a truly shocking performance at flyhalf, he’s nonetheless been pretty close on occasion and appears to lack the self-confidence to right himself during a game when things start off badly. Pienaar desperately needs the backing of a coach who will support him through these bad patches – if he’s to play flyhalf regularly – and he knows as well as the rest of us do that he does not have that in Peter de Villiers. Being dropped for poor goal-kicking, despite being in good form all-round, has left an indelible mark on the player and I fear that the opportunity to use Pienaar as an international flyhalf has been squandered.
So where does that leave the Sharks? In a quandary, for sure, since based on Saturday’s showing, Pienaar is the best flyhalf we have. Problem is, he doesn’t want to play there, since he’s convinced that his best shot at a regular Bok place will be to play at scrumhalf every week and it would be churlish to deny that he is superb in that position too and far more consistently.
Whatever the case, Pienaar is unlikely to see any Currie Cup action this year, making it extremely important for the Sharks to develop a young flyhalf this season. My call, despite some opposition, is still for Pat Lambie to make the switch, while Guy Cronje is another who could develop into a matchwinner at flyhalf if allowed to settle.Tweet