Pienaar signs two more years with Ulster

2012-01-13 00:00

SPRINGBOK scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar has surprised leading Sharks officials by confirming yesterday that he will not be leaving Ulster nor returning to Durban this year.

Pienaar’s two-year contract with the Irish club ends in June and the Sharks were expecting that the talented 27-year-old would rejoin his old team-mates at King’s Park.

But Pienaar has now signed a new deal with Ulster and will stay on in Belfast for another two years.

Sharks CEO Brian van Zyl and commercial manager Rudolf Straeuli both said last night that they were “surprised” Pienaar had decided to stay on in Ireland.

“We met with him when he was in Durban recently and he indicated that he was keen to come back to Durban once he had completed his two-year contract with Ulster,” said Straeuli. “So, yes, I am surprised at this news.”

Pienaar, caught between the positions of scrumhalf and flyhalf, has battled to cement a place in the Springbok team in recent years. He has now made it clear that he wants to play only at scrumhalf and it was thought that he might return to South Africa now that Fourie du Preez has opted to play his rugby in Japan and opened the door to the Springbok team.

But the success he has enjoyed at Ulster has persuaded him to extend his contract. Pienaar was named Ulster’s Player of the Year at the end of last season and his fellow-players in Ireland voted him Celtic League Player of the Year award and he was included in the Celtic League Team of the Year.

“I’ve really enjoyed my first two seasons here and when the opportunity came to extend the deal I was very excited,” Pienaar told reporters yesterday.

“I’ve made some good friends here and I’ve really enjoyed the rugby side. The people of Belfast have welcomed myself and my family with open arms and so it was an easy decision in the end.”

Ulster’s director of rugby, David Humphreys, confirmed the signing.

“We have been negotiating to retain Ruan since the summer and are delighted that he has chosen to extend his contract with us.

“He has been instrumental in the team’s success since joining us in 2010. He’s a true match winner and a total professional from his attitude in the gym, through the mentoring role he plays with younger players to the quality of performance he delivers consistently each week.”

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