Bok buddies together again
Ruan Pienaar (Gallo Images)
Brisbane – Ruan Pienaar and Morné Steyn will finally play together again as the Springboks’ halfback pairing in what probably feels like an eternity to two very good friends.
The two were last halfback partners in 2005 when they played together for the South Africa under-21 side that won the Junior World Championship in Argentina.
And who was the coach back then? None other than Peter de Villiers.
Just why the coach waited for five years to re-unite the pair is a mystery, but it probably has something to do with their contrasting fortunes as flyhalves.
But every fairytale has a happy ending and for these two friends, who already played together as boys in Bloemfontein, their backyard Tests growing up in Fichardt Park will become a reality in Saturday’s Tri-Nations clash against the Wallabies at the Suncorp Stadium.
Pienaar will be in the No 9 jersey and Steyn at No 10.
Pienaar’s inclusion was inevitable and belated.
The man who was labelled the Tiger Woods of rugby by De Villiers has been playing his best rugby in years because he has been allowed to play in his favoured scrumhalf position.
He was the substitute in this position in a number of Tests this year, but had to kick his heels behind Ricky Januarie.
“I just want to concentrate on doing the basic things right. That includes getting the line away quickly, taking some pressure off Morné when necessary, and now and again look for the gap,” a satisfied Pienaar said before his 43rd Test. Only 16 of those Tests were at scrumhalf.
Pienaar is looking forward to being re-united with Steyn.
“We have not played together for a while, so I’m looking forward to it. It feels good to be able to play with him,” he said.
Pienaar is determined not to put too much pressure on himself.
“I just want to enjoy it. I have nothing to prove, so just want to run out and play. Hopefully all goes well,” he said.
Pienaar realises that his tactical kicking may be vital.
“With Morné and Fourie du Preez, the Boks were very accurate in putting other teams under pressure last year. Hopefully I can help with that. I want to put in additional work this week to make sure that my kicks are accurate,” said Pienaar.
He expects a fast game, but believes it’s important for the Springboks to determine the tempo.
“We will stick to what worked for us in the past, but will try to retain possession for longer. We had New Zealand under heavy pressure at times in the second half by keeping the ball.”
Pienaar is looking forward to the duel between the halfbacks.
“I thought (Will) Genia and (Quade) Cooper were the best halfback pairing in the Super 14 and caused problems for many teams. Morné and I have a tough task ahead, but we’ll have to put pressure on them if we want to stand a chance.”