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Stormers hunting Pienaar
Cape Town - The "AN Other" that the Stormers listed at the end of their touring squad that was announced on Saturday night may well be a spot being kept open for Ruan Pienaar.
The player's agent, Gerrie Swart, has confirmed to Sport24 that there have been talks with the Stormers.
"The Stormers made contact and we are now discussing it with Ulster," said Swart.
Pienaar is still playing in a Magners League semi-final for Ulster against Leinster on Friday night. If Ulster win that game, they still have to play the final on 28 May against the winner of the other play-off between Munster and the Ospreys.
Pienaar is contracted with Ulster until the end of June 2012 and his employers will have to agree to a loan if he's going to play for the Stormers.
Of course there is also the issue of Pienaar's salary having to be paid and UIster will probably want to be compensated should he pick up an injury.
There is therefore still plenty of water that has to flow under the bridge before Pienaar could become a Stormer.
However, the Stormers could certainly do with an improvement at scrumhalf.
Dewaldt Duvenage has a snappy service, but very seldom poses a threat with ball in hand.
Ricky Januarie could consider himself fortunate to still be in the picture. He last played consistently well in 2008 and there is concern about his conditioning.
The Stormers would therefore be the ideal team for Pienaar to make his mark at should he still want to prove himself as a scrumhalf ahead of the World Cup, which starts in New Zealand on 9 September.
Pienaar could also play flyhalf and will be able to offer the Stormers experienced cover should Peter Grant pick up another injury in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, Januarie may start Saturday's Super Rugby match against the Chiefs in Hamilton. It will probably just be a rotational move if it happens.
Januarie has a lot to prove. He was one of five scrumhalves in the group of 51 recently invited to a national planning session ahead of the World Cup.
The others were Fourie du Preez, Francois Hougaard, Charl McLeod and Sarel Pretorius.
The latter is the form scrumhalf in South Africa, but his chances of making the Springbok World Cup squad may still be slim.
The reason is that Hougaard and Pienaar both offer utility value, while McLeod is playing well for the Sharks and is less individualistic.
Januarie is very experienced in spite of his shortcomings and won't be intimidated by the prospect of a World Cup.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs are gearing themselves for a revenge match after the Stormers humiliated them 49-15 on their home patch last year.
"The embarrassment we had out here last year against them [49-15 loss] is still going to strike a bit of nerve with some of the boys so there's plenty of motivation and if we keep fronting up and keep rolling on who knows where this could end," flyhalf Stephen Donald told the Waikato Times.
The Chiefs are fourth in the New Zealand conference and ninth on the overall log. They still have to play the Crusaders, Blues and Reds in the coming weeks.