Ulster decision not easy – Pienaar

Date published: October 16 2013

South African scrum-half Ruan Pienaar admits choosing to stay at Ulster wasn't a simple decision, despite being settled in Belfast.

South African scrum-half Ruan Pienaar admits choosing to stay at Ulster wasn't a simple decision, despite being settled in Belfast.

The Springbok has returned to Ravenhill after participating in The Rugby Championship, where he contended for the number nine shirt with Fourie du Preez.

Now back in Europe, Pienaar was a replacement for Ulster last weekend in their victory over Leicester Tigers in the opening round of the Heineken Cup.

Pienaar was linked with a move to European champions Toulon earlier in the season but elected to sign a three-year contract extension with Ulster, a conclusion he came to based on the happiness of his family in Ireland.

“It wasn't easy although I've enjoyed my time here in Belfast,” Pienaar told the Irish Times.

“It's been an enjoyable couple of years but when other opportunities come along you know you may try something new, a different place, a different culture. It wasn't an easy decision but at the end of the day I'm happy with the one that I made.

“It's not always easy but I've got a family to think of now and I've been happy in Ireland and Ulster. My family is important to me.

“For sure it's nice to know this is where I will be for the next couple of years. I'm glad to have had the opportunity and I'm looking forward to that so yeah I'm excited about the future here in Belfast and playing for Ulster.”

Having played for South Africa throughout the scheduled European off-season, Pienaar is yet to truly take a break in 2013 and admits he will need to take one at some point during the season.

Pienaar also stressed the need for Ulster to not leave too many opportunities out on the field as they did against the Tigers last Friday.

“I haven't had much of a break yet so I'll try to have some kind of a break somewhere during the year or the season,” added Pienaar.

“I'm still looking forward to the next couple of weeks and games and I feel I can perform well.

“For sure it was good being back at Ravenhill playing with everyone, settled and packing the suit case away for a while. It's always great especially with the transformations (at Ravenhill), so yeah it's kind of special to play my first game back there and getting a good run against a good team.

“It was pleasing to get the win against Leicester but the squad left a couple of chances out there.

“I don't think it was as accurate and as clinical as we wanted it to be. But we'll take that one. There was a lot to be positive about and going to Montpellier this weekend is going to be tough.

“They are a brilliant side and played good rugby the last few weeks. We've a good squad but it's a massive challenge. Any French team is always physical and especially at home. If you look at the performances they've given at home this year… beating Clermont and other teams. It's not going to be easy.”