France-based SA lock Pieterse hopes to catch eye of Bok selectors

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Ryno Pieterse in action for the Bulls during a Super Rugby clash against the Sharks in Durban on 20 January 2020.
Ryno Pieterse in action for the Bulls during a Super Rugby clash against the Sharks in Durban on 20 January 2020.
Steve Haag/Gallo Images

South African lock Ryno Pieterse said he is happy the "rollercoaster" experience of his first few months at Castres is over ahead of travelling to fellow Top 14 strugglers Montpellier on Sunday.

Pieterse, 22, who headed to France this season from the Bulls, has started three out of his side's last six games after appearing just once before December.

"I think it was timing. It's been a rollercoaster ride. I didn't get much game time at the beginning," he told AFP.

"Tom Staniforth came from Australia, he got injured, then Hans Nkinsi got a six-week ban. So it was about me sticking my hand up and saying 'here I am'," he added.

The trip to the Mediterranean coast to face the outfit in 13th place has been rescheduled after European Cup games set for this weekend were postponed due to fears over the coronavirus variant in Britain.

Pieterse said he had originally planned to head home, with younger players in line to feature in the second-tier Challenge Cup, to obtain personal papers.

"They would have given me 10 days off to sort out some documents in South Africa," he said.

"We knew it was going to come, playing these catch up games, we just didn't know when," he added.

Pieterse featured for South Africa Schools A as a teenager but has missed out on further international selection since then.

He said he wants to catch the eye of Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber with his club performances.

"I hope that someone sees what's happening here. You never know if they're watching or not," he said.

"That would be a massive honour for me if they contacted me. It would be a dream come true."

'No pressure'

Pieterse's men, four places from bottom outfit Agen, head to Montpellier after two straight wins.

Before that, Castres had won just once since the end of October.

Pieterse said the club's coaches have refused to talk about Sunday's clash being a relegation scrap at the GGL Stadium.

"They haven't spoken about that. They're not trying to put too much pressure on us," he said.

"But just doing what we're doing at the moment because it's working."

Later on Sunday, France captain Charles Ollivon takes Toulon to Racing 92, who last tasted defeat on 22 November.

Flanker Ollivon said he was wary of the hosts who can pick from Australia's Kurtley Beale, Ireland's Simon Zebo and Les Bleus' Virimi Vakatawa in their backline.

"They've got a big pack. Their set-piece is performing well. They have pretty fantastic three-quarters. We're going to try and be consistent over 80 minutes," he told AFP.

Fixtures (SA times):

Saturday

Bordeaux-Begles v Clermont (16:15), Bayonne v Pau (22:00)

Sunday

Montpellier v Castres (15:45), Racing 92 v Toulon (22:05)

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