Ulster’s South African scrumhalf, Ruan Pienaar, is staying with the Province after agreeing a new three year extension to his current contract on Tuesday.
It ends weeks of speculation and rumour that the 30-year-old would be joining current Heineken Cup champions, Toulon, on a new deal once his current contract with the Irish Province expired in June next year.
Ulster Rugby were delighted to make the annoucement at Ravenhill yesterday that the world class No 9 was staying with the club for a further three years.
Pienaar’s new deal, coupled with New Zealand No 8 Nick Williams’ two year extension confirmed last week has also ended fears there could be a major exodus from the Province next season with many contracts due to expire.
Signed in 2010, Pienaar has been a crucial figure in Ulster’s progress in making the knockout stages in the past four Heineken Cup tournaments, including reaching the Heineken Cup final in 2012 and last season’s RaboDirect PRO12 final.
The Springbok’s signature was regarded as a major coup when captured by the new Director Rugby, David Humohreys.
Pienaar agreed a two year extension in 2012, but Ulster fans were resigned to losing one of the favourite adopted sons when news of Toulon’s interest was registered last month.
The South African only arrived back in the Province on Tuesday having been away with the Springboks playing in the Rugby Championship, which concluded last Saturday. New Zealand’s win over South Africa in the final match secured the title for the All Blacks.
Peinaar is expected to be involved in Ulster’s Heieneken Cup game on Friday night against Leicester Tigers, starting from the bench in the opening Pool Five sell-out match at Ravenhill.
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH RUAN PIENAAR IN WEDNESDAY’S NEWS LETTER