Sunday 20 October 2019

'David Nucifora came in for a lot of flak but he has been proven 100% right' - Ulster star on Ruan Pienaar decision

Ruan Pienaar (left) and David Nucifora (right).
Ruan Pienaar (left) and David Nucifora (right).

The IRFU received plenty of criticism from Ulster fans after they refused to sanction a contract extension for Ruan Pienaar last season, but Darren Cave believes that the form of his replacement John Cooney has shown the move to be '100% right'.

IRFU Performance Director David Nucifora wanted Irish qualified scrum-halves starting at each of the provinces, so facilitated a move north for Connacht's Dublin-born scrum-half Cooney rather than keep Pienaar.

The decision was roundly criticised at the time but Cooney has emerged as Ulster's Player of the Season in what has been a troubled campaign for the province.

Speaking to The Left Wing in association with Laya Healthcare, Ulster centre Cave told Luke Fitzgerald and Will Slattery that the IRFU and Nucifora deserve credit for making the call to replace the South African international with the 27-year-old.

"In fairness to David Nucifora and the IRFU, they came in for a lot of flak for the Pienaar thing, but he has been proven 100% right," Cave said.

"Ruan is an absolute gentleman so I was a little bit sad for him and his family. They didn't want to go. I think to be honest, it did drag on a little bit. I know our supporters love him a lot - and they are right to love him for everything he did - but I just felt that we should accept this. The flak that the IRFU took, and nobody has actually come out since and said, 'Do you know what? We abused the IRFU and we were completely wrong'.

"Cooney has probably been our best player this season - he will probably tell you that!"

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