Johannesburg - Ruan Pienaar is relishing his recall to South Africa’s starting XV and is looking forward to matching his skills against Australia’s Will Genia when the two teams clash in a Rugby Championship match in Perth on Saturday.
Ruan Pienaar (Gallo)
According supersport's website, Pienaar has not started a Test since playing against the All Blacks in Wellington last year and the scrumhalf cannot wait for Saturday’s test to kick-off.
“I’m excited because it’s been a while since I started a Test at nine. I have had a few games off the bench but you need a different mindset but I’m really looking forward to the chance to start a Test,” he said.
Pienaar’s opposite number on Saturday will be Wallaby skipper Genia a man who has become the heartbeat of the Australia team in recent years.
“I rate him as probably the best scrumhalf in world rugby. I think he is probably the most important player in the Australian team. It is a huge challenge, not just for me but the whole team, to keep him in check.
“A lot of play revolves around him and he and (flyhalf) Quade Cooper are always dangerous so it will be difficult but we have prepared well and hopefully what we have put in place will work.
“Genia is dangerous with the ball in hand. He manages to find gaps where it didn’t look like there was a gap. He is fast, he is strong and he is a clever player so it is difficult to find a weakness in his game. When he has the ball he is always looking to create chances for himself or his team-mates,” explained Pienaar.
The 28-year-old Pienaar will by playing in his 57th Test on Saturday which makes him the third most experienced member of the team behind Jean de Villiers and Bryan Habana.
Pienaar said that his sudden elevation to one of the most experienced members of the team is a rather odd feeling after having been part of squads in the past which included the likes of John Smit and Victor Matfield, both of whom played over 100 Tests.
“It feels a bit strange because last year there were guys with over a 100 Tests and suddenly I am the third-most capped player in the team.
“We are a young team but there are a few experienced players so I try to give a bit of direction where I can but Jean is doing a great job as captain. There are also a few guys who have captained their provinces who have stood up and helped,” he said.
Pienaar will be expected to spark a South Africa backline which has not shown its best attacking form in their two previous matches against Argentina but Pienaar, while admitting that he would like to help the team to build momentum, said that the kicking game which has served the Springboks so well in the past would not be abandoned.
“It is important to have a balance in your play. We have guys with speed on the outside and that also has to be used but I think everyone knows that our tactical kicking has been one of our strong points over the last few years.
“Hopefully everyone who kicks, myself, Morne (Steyn), Fransie (Steyn) and Zane (Kirchner) at the back, can get good field position with our kicks to put Australia under pressure to give the guys with speed a chance to attack.
“For me, as scrumhalf, the most important thing is to deliver good service and to get to the breakdown points quickly. If we can get momentum and get quicker ball then we play some of our best rugby so I just want to do the basics well and the rest will fall into place,” he concluded.
15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Dominic Shipperley, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia (captain), 8 Radike Samo, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Tatafu Polota Nau, 1 Benn Robinson
Substitutes: 16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 James Slipper, 18 Scott Higginbotham, 19 Liam Gill, 20 Nick Phipps, 21 Mike Harris, 22 Anthony Fainga'a
15. Zane Kirchner, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jean de Villiers (captain), 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Substitutes: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Francois Louw, 20 Johan Goosen, 21 Patrick Lambie, 22 Lwazi Mvovo