Old dog Ruan Pienaar keeps the Cheetahs’ young heads calm ahead of Currie Cup final against Pumas

Ruan Pienaar of the Toyota Cheetahs during the Currie Cup Rugby match Toyota Cheetahs v Vodacom Bulls at Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein

Former Springbok Ruan Pienaar will turn 40-years-old next season, but there's no chance yet of him hanging up his playing boots. Picture: Christiaan Kotze/BackpagePix

Published Jun 22, 2023


Cape Town - Former Springbok Ruan Pienaar will turn 40 years old next season, but there's no chance yet of him hanging up his playing boots as he eyes another season of rugby with the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

It's usually something you see amongst the forwards who play until late in their 30s before finally hanging up their professional boots, but the 88-test Bok is the exception to the rule as the versatile back is still in his element, and ready for another season of top-level rugby.

Hawies Fourie, Cheetahs coach, confirmed that Pienaar is not yet ready to call it quits and will still be an integral part of the Free State side going into next year's Currie Cup and possible European competition.

Pienaar (39) is turning back the clock week in and week out, delivering outstanding performances for the Bloemfontein side whether he plays at scrumhalf or flyhalf, and his stability is what the team needs as they struggle to find a foothold in international rugby competitions.

On Saturday, in the final of the Currie Cup against the Pumas in Bloemfontein (kickoff 4pm), he will be vital in the home side's cause to win the Currie Cup, with his performances keeping the promising flyhalf Siya Masuku out of the 10-jersey.

Fourie said Pienaar signed for another year and will continue to form part of the core leadership group alongside regular captain Victor Sekekete. Pienaar will turn 40 years old heading into next season's rugby.

"No, it's not his swansong, he extended for another year and will play for us for another season," Fourie said about Pienaar.

"He is still enjoying his rugby and will continue to fulfil the same role for us.

"Ruan is a very competitive person so he will want to finish his career on a high, he won't just play for money or whatever. He will throw his weight behind and give input to the Cheetahs.

"He is an experienced guy and we all pull him in when we have conversations on what to do, and how to do things. So he will have the same role in supporting Victor and being the leader of the backs.

"Obviously on the field, he can play nine and ten, so he can be the general on the field. Nothing different from the past season.”

Pienaar has been a vital cog in the Cheetahs' season and was the main contributor to their convincing semi-final win over the Bulls this past weekend. He contributed 22 points in the 39-10 win.

For Saturday's final, his ability to keep heads calm around him will be important, and his kicking boot when points are on offer or to relieve pressure when the Pumas are on the attack.

But the defending champions will also have a few plans up their sleeve to curtail Pienaar when they arrive at the Toyota Stadium on Saturday.


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