Thursday 20 July 2017

Ruan Pienaar: I'm jealous Isa Nacewa is getting to stay

19 May 2012; Isa Nacewa, Leinster, is tackled by Ruan Pienaar, Ulster. Heineken Cup Final, Leinster v Ulster, Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, England. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
19 May 2012; Isa Nacewa, Leinster, is tackled by Ruan Pienaar, Ulster. Heineken Cup Final, Leinster v Ulster, Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, England. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Jonathan Bradley

For the moment, all Ruan Pienaar is able to tell us of his next destination is that the weather will be better than it is in Belfast.

Not that it was a requirement, more just a happy coincidence.

"At my age you just want to get a decent job somewhere, someone to give you that opportunity to keep doing what you love," said the departing Ulster hero with typical modesty.

For many, it still seems strange it's all come to this.

There is still a sense of disbelief among the Ulster faithful that their star player wants to stay, is wanted but will not be here in some three months.

An IRFU ruling on succession policy meant the 88-times capped Springbok's career with the province was brought to what two of the three parties involved felt was a premature end.

And the mystery surrounding his next destination - it is believed he will still sign with Montpelier despite his old South Africa coach Jake White having agreed to move on since contact was first made between club and player - has made it difficult for some fans to finally turn the page on the issue.

"I think it's tough because there's a lot of people out there who think there's still a chance that I'll be able to stay," revealed Pienaar. "I got the same question from somebody yesterday asking if there was any chance I would stay or that they would work something out.

"Obviously the decision has been made and I'm definitely leaving. I guess it makes it difficult in that way but I'm sure it will be announced where soon.

"No matter what, this is my last season here, and that's sad, but I want to make the best of what's left."

A controversy that hardly needed any fanning of the flames had a healthy dose of petrol poured on last week with the news that Leinster's Isa Nacewa will spend another year in Dublin.

While there is a real danger in comparing any such situation in Irish Rugby - the two players are both highly valued foreign stars but who play in very different positions for very different set-ups - it was enough to have certain sections of social media up in arms.

And Pienaar, while acknowledging the respect he has for another import who has given every ounce for the cause, admits that he found the situation curious at the very least.

"I did think about it," he said of the respective situations. "What he's brought to Leinster, and how much the fans love him, I respect that decision to have him stay.

"He's been a great servant to Leinster Rugby and he's in great form this season. I'm sure he's very happy and obviously I'm a bit jealous.

"After it, and a few other decisions as well, I suppose there have been a few raised eyebrows and it made me wonder what makes my case different.

"But all in all, you have to respect it and there's nothing that can be done about it now."

Belfast Telegraph

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