Scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar is battling a knee injury and likely to miss the Springboks’ tour opener against Ireland, reports JON CARDINELLI in Dublin.
On Sunday, the bulk of the Boks’ touring party arrived in the Irish capital. The squad will be joined by the European-based players on Monday, although it is a concern to hear that Pienaar is still carrying an injury.
A full medical update on Pienaar’s injury will be relayed on Monday, but SARugbymag.co.za understands that the scrumhalf is unlikely to feature against Ireland on Saturday. It’s hoped that Pienaar will be ready for the Boks’ second game of the tour against England at Twickenham.
Pienaar injured knee ligaments in the Test against the All Blacks on 13 September, and was subsequently replaced by Francois Hougaard for the home leg of the Rugby Championship. Hougaard took his opportunity in those Tests against the Wallabies and All Blacks, and nobody can deny that his speed and physicality contributed to two big victories.
And yet, the conditions in the northern hemisphere this November will be very different to those experienced in South Africa during the latter stages of the Rugby Championship. The Boks will need to temper their approach accordingly, and they will need a No 9 suited to the task.
The Boks have already lost first-choice scrumhalf and chief tactician, Fourie du Preez, to injury for the rest of the year. It would be a blow to lose Pienaar as well.
He’s not only one of the most experienced players in the Bok squad, but has an intimate understanding of rugby in the north having played for Irish club Ulster for nearly five seasons.
If Pienaar fails to pass fit, Hougaard will continue at No 9 alongside No 10 Handré Pollard.
The Bok team to play Ireland will be announced on Wednesday.
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