The veteran Springbok scrumhalf, Ruan Pienaar, is expected to be making his eagerly anticipated return to Bloemfontein on Friday.
The Toyota Free State Cheetahs were hopeful that he would be back in time for Saturday’s Currie Cup derby against the Griquas, however, according to the coach, Franco Smith, he only left Belfast on Thursday evening.
With the departure of Shaun Venter to Wales, Rudy Paige to France and Ruben de Haas, busy with the USA national team, the scrumhalf depth at the union has been put to the test.
As it stands, the Free State only have Tian Meyer, Dian Badenhorst and Rewan Kruger at their disposal.
Smith believes that Pienaar will have no problem slotting into the setup at the Cheetahs, however, they will not rush him back onto the field of play.
“He is has got so much experience and he can play almost anywhere in the backline.
“If I can put it like this, he will be a good point of reference for the players who are already playing in the team.
“He is definitely going to bring a lot of experience to the team, although he hasn’t played Currie Cup rugby in a very long time.
“Most of the guys playing the Currie Cup now will not remember having played against him. That is if they have ever played against him.
“We are not going to rush him into things, he is a long term project over the next two years here at the Cheetahs.
“The guys that have worked hard during the preseason deserve their chance to play now, however, we do only have two scrumhalves in the system in Tian Meyer and Dian Badenhorst.
“So, we definitely need another player in the system, and with his experience, he will be an asset to the team.”
Pienaar may be available for selection for next Friday’s game between the Free State and Golden Lions in Bloemfontein. – MORGAN PIEK