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Thu, 27 Aug 2009
Springbok coach Peter de Villiers has moved swiftly to defend his decision to name Ruan Pienaar, initially his preferred choice as flyhalf, at fullback for the Tri-Nations crunch Test against Australia in Perth on Saturday.

The Sharks utility back has replaced Frans Steyn in the only change to the starting XV.

Schalk Burger returns to the bench, in place of the injured Danie Rossouw, in the only other change to the matchday 22.

But it was the decision to name Pienaar at No.15 that raised some eyebrows especially after De Villiers recently stated that Pienaar is now being considered only as a flyhalf.

The 24-year-old Pienaar has only started at fullback for the Boks twice before – against Tonga at the 2007 World Cup and Wales on the year-end tour in 2007.

The first eight of his 32 Tests were all off the bench and he has made another 10 appearances off the bench – often playing at fullback.

In 2007 he also made four starts as a scrumhalf, while he started at flyhalf in six of his last eight Tests – in the other two he played off the bench.

De Villiers, though, insists that the latest decision was made simply to keep all his players happy.

“Ruan is a brilliant player,” De Villiers told a media gathering in Perth, adding: “Both Ruan and Frans are very talented young players.

“I hope he will add more bite on attack. Frans Steyn has not let us down, he always pulled his weight, but it’s important to keep the interest levels high of everyone in the squad.

“We are very organised at the moment, we don’t want to become a fruit salad, so No.15 will be Ruan’s number and No.10 will be Morné’s number.

“Most of the time, that will be the case, but we have very versatile players as we saw in the last game when the No.3 [captain John Smit] put through a brilliant grubber which No.5 [Victor Matfield] chased down on the wing, so you never know what might happen in the game.”

Asked whether Pienaar might switch to flyhalf from time to time during the game, he said: “Ruan has been selected to play at fullback and that is where he will concentrate his energies.

“However, if the situation dictates, as it might, we have an option to make use of him at 10.”

Burger’s availability is also a welcome return for the Boks, following his eight-week ban for a facial massage on B&I Lions wing Luke Fitzgerald during the second Test against the Lions in Pretoria.

“Heinrich [Brüssow] has earned his spot, and what a pleasure it is for the team to have a player of Schalk’s calibre giving us a boost off the bench,” De Villiers said.

“Heinrich Brüssow has done well in that position,” captain John Smit said of the decision to start Burger on the bench behind the rookie flank.

“But it is great to have a player like Schalk – with 50 caps – on a very capable bench.

“It’s certainly indicative of where our team is at the moment to see Schalk at No.19,” Smit added.

“It shows how far the team has come. It’s amazing to have a bench like that.”

17 Responses to From fruit salads to fullbacks…

  • 1

    As long as Pienaar has nothing to do with kickng for poles the Boks will just have to make do with the change and work with it.

  • 2

    Pienaaar will hopefully do more than just kick the ball away like Steyn does.

  • 3

    i dont care what they do…as long as they win

  • 4

    I will miss Frans there – he joined the backline, and he was the perfect guy to set up the next phase.

  • 5

    Agreed ex player, and he’s much stronger on his feet in the tackle, he can run any ball back at them and hold the ball long enough for reinforcements, hope Pienaar will be secure under the high ball.

  • 6

    @Ex Player
    I think the fact that Frans is leaving abroad soon has something to do with it, he will be shifted into the background gradually from now on.

  • 7

    I hope you’re right Piet and hope PdV hasnt tried to revert to that helter skelter running from our 22 rugby we saw in last years trinations.

  • 8

    Check Pietste on Dale College.

  • 9

    7 @Manlybok – Agree on that. I just hope that we transform our gameplan, because I believe that our ‘suprise attack’ is worn out, and will be countered, if we do not take a new avenue!

  • 10

    4@Ex Player – I agree that he joined the line, but after that he very rarely let the ball go again.

    Surely the whole idea of a fullback joining a line at pace is to set up the people outside him with a potential overlap?

    Or am I reading the whole thing incorrectly?

  • 11

    10@Scrumdown – Am I the only guy that is concerned about the fact that Snorrie has fiddled with a Team that was’nt broken ?

    By this I mean that Ruan is not a recognised No 15 (yet), and that Ruan is now being farked around from one position to yet another.

    What did Fransie Steyn do so wrong to be replaced ? To my mind, Fransie is a better “Last line of defence” defender than Ruan, has a more powerful boot and is less likely to spill the ball when carrying it up !

    Does the fact that Fransie is going to France weigh so heavily on Snorrie’s mind that he is willing to gamble with a Tri-Nations trophy at stake and Tri-Nation nearly won ?

  • 12

    @grootblousmile – Hi GBS, i agree on rather haveing Frans as a last line of defence,I worry with Ruan being it, but have been told he is a lot better than Frans but cant see it. Frans seems to tackle and do everthing with gusto but with Ruan it seems everthing depends on his confidence on the day.

    Nobody ask me to back what i have said with stats cause i cant cos this Sharkgirl cant, it justs looks that way to me :-)

  • 13

    Booboo with last sentence. Noboby ask me to back up what i have said with stats cos i cant, just looks this way to me

  • 14

    12@Treehugger – There’s bullshit, more bullshit.. and then there’s STATS !

    The gut feel and seeing things with your own eyes.. then making a judgment…. is still the best way to analize….

  • 15

    @grootblousmile – Yes but what if you are told “you say this cause your knowledge of the game is not that great, you just enjoy it”

    Needless to say the man is a plonker, but i still stood by what i said. He was very patronizeing.

  • 16

    Good luck to the Boks. Down a kangaroo down Boks.

    watching in anticipation

  • 17

    Bloody hell, so that is why Burger was suspended, for giving a “facial massage”? Wouldn’t want to experience a SA full body massage. :-(


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