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Pienaar backs Ulster squad

Guinness PRO12 Editor

29 Apr 2012

Ruan Pienaar insists Ulster’s squad is up there with the best of them after they knocked RaboDirect PRO12 rivals Edinburgh out of the Heineken Cup to reach the final.

The 28-year-old – considered one of the best overseas signings in the club’s history – produced a flawless kicking performance to plunder 17 of Ulster’s 22 points.

However, their dominant European form hasn’t been matched by their patchy performances in the RaboDirect PRO12 in which they currently sit sixth.

And with a potential rematch against RaboDirect PRO12 leaders Leinster – who virtually ended the Ravenhill outfit’s play-off hopes in their last meeting – on the cards in the Heineken Cup final, Pienaar is confident of finishing the season on a high.

“We'll need to improve for the final. We weren't at our best but we managed to play not that well and still win,” said the South African.

“At Twickenham we'll be facing either Leinster or Clermont, who are fantastic sides. It's going to be a tough one but we have a squad that are right up there.”

Ulster’s Heineken Cup final appearance will be their first since their 1999 triumph and Pienaar paid tribute to the Ulster fans that packed out the 52,000 seater Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

And with a second RaboDirect PRO12 league title looking very unlikely the World Cup winner was delighted to give the Ulster supporters a fitting end to the season.

“It was special. So many people came down from Belfast and filled the Aviva Stadium,” he added.

“It was great to run out in front of that crowd at the stadium but we haven't achieved anything yet.

“We showed a lot of courage. We knew what returning to the final meant for the fans.”