Ruan out to spark attacking play

2009-08-28 00:00

PERTH — Heinrich Brüssow has done so much positive work for the Springboks that his retention ahead of Schalk Burger failed to register any surprise amongst the media in Perth yesterday ahead of tomorrow’s Tri-Nations international against the Wallabies in Perth.

The one change that coach Peter de Villiers did make to the team — installing Ruan Pienaar at fullback instead of Francois Steyn — opens up exciting possibilities for the team.

Pienaar’s recall to the starting line-up has much to do with efforts to spark the Springbok attacking play as well as a look to the future. The 25-year-old Sharks star had begun the year as De Villiers’s first-choice flyhalf, but with his goal-kicking confidence deserting him and Morné Steyn proving on the button, Pienaar had to make way by sheer weight of public opinion if nothing else.

But even though the Springboks have roared to three successive Tri-Nations victories over the All Blacks and Wallabies, they have not quite clicked on attack and truly ripped their opposition apart as they have threatened to do.

De Villiers has waited patiently for the offensive game plan to fall into place, but on Saturday the backline will have a new look with Pienaar slotting in in the rearguard. Francois Steyn’s efforts to join the line have occasionally been ponderous, although his heavy boot will be missed, but he will soon be on his way overseas and the coach has decided now is the time to look at other options.

There is always the possibility of Pienaar and Morné Steyn swapping places when the Springboks are on attack, an exciting prospect which De Villiers did not rule out.

“We are very organised at the moment, we don’t want to become a fruit salad, so 15 will be Ruan’s number and 10 will be Morné’s number. Most of the time that will be the case, but we have very versatile players … so you never know what might happen in the game,” the coach said.

Pienaar himself seemed a little bewildered by it all and admitted it was difficult to guess whether De Villiers’s intentions are long-term or not.

“It’s another new challenge, moving from nine to 10 and now to 15, but hopefully it will go well. I don’t think it will go as far as being a career move, I think the coach wants to test a bit with Frans Steyn leaving and Conrad Jantjes injured. But there are also guys like Zane Kirchner and Stefan Terblanche, who are playing brilliant rugby, so I’m not completely sure,” Pienaar said.

The lanky, elusive runner won’t be scared to attack with the ball, but he said he would still pay homage to the territorial game plan that has served the Springboks so well this year.

“Luckily Percy Montgomery is here to help me out, but I’ll just concentrate on doing the basics right and not try too many things. But if the opportunity’s there, I’ll have a go; if not, then I will use the kicking game that has worked well for us so far.”

A year ago, it would have been unthinkable for Burger to be kept out of the starting XV, but Brüssow has been so incredibly effective at killing and stealing opposition ball at the rucks that he really could not be dropped. There is no doubt the opposition hate playing against the squat, immensely strong and gifted flanker, whose skills bring the enemy’s attack to its knees.

“It was an easy decision because there was no reason why Heinrich shouldn’t be there,” De Villiers said.

Kick-off is at noon tomorrow with Bryce Lawrence (NZ) the referee.

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