'It brings a lot of memories and good feelings when you drive into Belfast'
Ruan Pienaar has been the main focus of attention for Belfast rugby media ahead of the Cheetahs’ Guinness PRO14 clash with Ulster.
The ex-Springboks scrum-half played for the Irish province from 2010 to 2017 before heading to French club Montpellier for two years.
He never left Belfast because he wanted to. The IRFU instead wanted home-grown players to be promoted. Now that he is back – albeit briefly – he has admitted that his wife at home in South Africa is very jealous about his trip to their former home city.
“It brings a lot of memories and good feelings when you drive into Belfast and my wife is very jealous that I am back here,” said Pienaar,’ who didn’t rule out eventually coming back to the Irish club in a coaching capacity.
“We will see what the future holds. I’m coming to the end of my playing career and our time in the next few years is in South Africa, but we’ll see.
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“Having spent seven years playing for Ulster it will be a strange feeling running out at the Kingspan Stadium wearing a different jersey but I’m looking forward to it,” he continued.
“It’s been a while since I have played at the Kingspan and I know how brilliant and supportive their supporters are, but it is obviously a very important game for us and we are desperate to get the result.
“We will obviously have to perform a lot better than in our last game, but training has gone well this week.”
‘Behind the rugby player there is a person and they go through all the different challenges outside of rugby as well’
– Ruan Pienaar tells @heagneyl about how a family tragedy brought him home to Bloemfontein and into @CheetahsRugby https://t.co/nkh8W21WSN
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) December 4, 2019
The game Pienaar was referring to was the 36-12 defeat suffered in inclement conditions at the hands of Conference A front-runners Leinster in Dublin last Saturday.
“We had a really tough outing against Leinster in bad conditions. Some Leinster players told me afterwards they had never seen it so bad in the years that they have played there.
“In the first half, we were our own worst enemies. Leinster played well and we had no possession or field position, but we gave away too many penalties.
“You have to take the positives from it and in the second half, we were much better. I may be wrong but we only conceded one try and scored two (in the last 25 minutes), our discipline was a lot better and we kept the ball a lot better and put them under pressure more.
“Yes, a tough game if you look at the scoreboard but the way we ended was encouraging and we’ll try to take that into this game.”
WATCH: Ruan Pienaar features in the RugbyPass documentary on Fijian legend Nemani Nadolo
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