Pienaar praises Ravenhill reception

Guinness PRO12 Editor

10 May 2011

Ruan Pienaar picked up the Magners League’s most prestigious individual award this week and immediately tried to deflect the praise towards each and every one of his Ulster team-mates.

Pienaar was named the Magners League Players’ Player of the Season at an end-of-year dinner in Dublin thanks to a series of stunning performances in Belfast and beyond.

The 27-year-old Springbok only made his Ulster debut in October last year but became a fans favourite in next to no time.

Despite sharing the kicking duties with Ian Humphreys, Pienaar has scored 119 points in 15 Magners League fixtures and was the last-gasp hero in recent wins over Glasgow, the Scarlets and the Dragons.

The World Cup winning half back has played a vital role in Ulster’s march to the Magners League Play-Offs but, rather than talk about his own success, Pienaar praised the warm welcome he has received since swapping the southern hemisphere for the north.

"It's a great honour to receive this award and it is all down to my team,” said Pienaar, who marked his Ulster debut with a 19-point haul against Glasgow seven months ago.

”It has been an unbelievable first season for me at Ulster. I came to a place where I didn't know anyone, and where the weather is very different to South Africa, and everyone has helped me to fit in very quickly.

"I have really enjoyed my time here so far and, as a young and fairly inexperienced team, we have done well to reach the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup and the semi-finals of the Magners League.

”We have had a couple of close games that have helped us to build some good character and guts and, hopefully, we can finish the season on a high.”


Ruan Pienaar has enjoyed a superb first Magners League season

Finishing on a high means achieving something no other side has managed this season, namely winning in Leinster.

Pienaar and co travel to the RDS on Friday night looking to become the first side to succeed in the Irish capital since the Ospreys launched a smash and grab raid on the Magners League crown this time last year.

And having lost both encounters to the Dubliners so far this term, and with a few key names unavailable through injury, Pienaar knows he and his colleagues face a huge task if they are to make it through the second Magners League Grand Final on May 28.

"It is a massive challenge for us against Leinster in the semi-finals. We were outplayed in the first-half last time we met them, but we improved after that,” added Pienaar.

"We have everything to play for against the form team in Europe. They aren't Heineken Cup finalists for nothing, and in the semi-finals of the Magners League Play-Offs, and they have stars all over the field.

"Last weekend against the Dragons at Rodney Parade wasn't the the easiest place to go to get four points. It wasn't the prettiest of games, but we got the job done and got what we needed to make the Play-Offs.

"Now, we are a young side coming up against a very experienced and talented Leinster team. We've had a couple of cruciall injuries and losing Andrew Trimble, Paddy Wallace and now Dan Touhy is a real blow. But we will go to Dublin, soak up the atmosphere and enjoy ourselves.”