Pienaar debuts and Guinness PRO14 flavour to PNC

Paul Eddison
02 August 2019

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The Rugby Championship might be taking a break but there is plenty of action around the world with the Pacific Nations Cup and the return of a Springbok legend.

Much was made of former Ulster scrum-half Ruan Pienaar’s move to the Toyota Cheetahs, and he will get his first taste of action in the Currie Cup on Friday against the Lions.

Pienaar has been named on the bench, having just arrived in Bloemfontein, and is already looking forward to making an impression for Franco Smith’s side.

He said: “It’s very exciting, it’s a special group of players which Franco is leading pretty well. I’ve only been here a few days and I can see there’s a special vibe between the players.

“I’m excited to be part of it and very excited to be involved.”

Ruan Pienaar

While Pienaar’s debut may be the main attraction, the Cheetahs have silverware on their minds with two wins from two so far.

And with the likes of Guinness PRO14 top try-scorer in 2018/19 Rabz Maxwane on the wing, they are hardly short of firepower.

Meanwhile there will be a number of Isuzu Southern Kings players in action for the Eastern Province Elephants in the Currie Cup first division.

PACIFIC INTEREST

On Saturday the Pacific Nations Cup continues with a trio of matches with plenty of Guinness PRO14 interest.

All eyes will be on Higashioka where Japan host Tonga. Fresh from their victory over Fiji, the Japanese can take a big step towards the overall title against Tonga.

To do so, they will need to get the better of a Tongan team that has brought in Ospreys tighthead prop Ma’afu Fia, slotting in ahead of Ben Tameifuna who drops to the bench.

Benetton’s Nasi Manu is still injured, so Siale Piutau captains the Tongans this time, as they look to bounce back from last week’s loss to Samoa in cataclysmic conditions.

The other two games are both being played in Suva, where there will be another double-header next weekend in the final round of matches.

Edinburgh’s Bill Mata starts at No.8 for Fiji, who will be captained by former Glasgow Warriors second row Leone Nakarawa.

And the Scottish flavour continues onto the bench where new man Mesu Dolokoto, as well as Niko Matawalu, are both included. Former Ospreys playmaker Josh Matavesi has been handed the fly-half jersey for the Fijians.

 

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🇫🇯 Niko Matawalu and Mesu Dolokoto are both on the bench for Fiji this weekend as they host Canada in the Pacific Nations Cup.

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They will hope to return to winning ways after last week’s loss to Japan against a Canadian team without DTH van der Merwe.

The Canadians do have a pair of former Guinness PRO14 men in their back three, former Osprey Jeff Hassler on the wing, and ex-Ulster Peter Nelson at full-back.

Finally there will be a battle of two unbeaten sides when the USA take on Samoa in Suva, with former Cardiff Blues winger Blaine Scully again captaining the Eagles.

For Samoa, one Wales-based centre replaces another as Scarlets’ Kieron Fonotia comes into the No.13 jersey, replacing Blues’ Rey Lee-Lo who drops to the bench.

Samoa were convincing winners against Tonga last weekend in Apia, and could keep the pressure on Japan with a victory here prior to a final meeting against Fiji.

If the USA were to emerge victorious, that could potentially set up a winner-takes-all clash with Japan next Saturday.

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