Ulster’s Ruan Pienaar is not ‘superstitious’

Ruan Pienaar tees up to convert his try during the Heineken Cup Pool 5 Round 6 clash between Leicester Tigers and Ulster
Ruan Pienaar tees up to convert his try during the Heineken Cup Pool 5 Round 6 clash between Leicester Tigers and Ulster

It is ultimately about a squad when it comes to winning games and qualifying in Europe for the quarter-finals.

However, Ulster scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar, is more than paying the club back for the hefty wage bill he is no doubt receiving.

Agreeing a new three-year deal as the domestic season kicked off, Pienaar has proven his weight in gold as he once again delivered the goods on the European front for an Ulster side continuing to make progress on and off the pitch.

Pienaar picked up back-to-back man of the match accolades following victories over Montpellier at Ravenhill last week and Leicester Tigers on Saturday as Ulster topped their pool and the seeds in Europe this season.

He scored 17 points in the 27-16 win over Montpellier and then registered all 22 points (one try, five penalties, one conversion) in the crucial win over the Tigers.

The South African scored the vital try in the second half which brought Ulster right back into contention when they were 19-12 behind.

And then he delivered a 52m penalty to put the visitors in front for the first time - a lead they were not to relinquish.

Pienaar, playing in his 27th Heineken Cup match took his overall points tally to 183.

Ulster had gone to Welford Road as underdogs, but Pienaar did not fell as though the side had saved their best performance to the final group game.

“We knew it was going to be a tough place to come to.

“But Montepllier away was a tough place to go to and we produced a good performance there.

“Our forwards played outstandingly well and we controlled the game pretty well.

“Our kicking game was, but at the end of the day it came down to a massive team effort,” Pienaar said.

“We knew it was going to be tough. It may not have been pretty at the end there but we managed to get the result.”

Leicester were unable to get their big runners going as Ulster marshalled them well, making them play where Ulster wanted them to.

“We put a lot of focus on certain aspects of the game coming into it and our kicking game was part of that.

“Our defence was not so great least week against Montpellier.

“We knew we had to make a massive step up this week and we did.

“Once again the forwards were outstanding, made a massive amount of huge hits and that was crucial.”

No club has ever won the Heineken Cup having gone through the group stage unbeaten, but Pienaar made it clear he had no such superstitions.

“I’m not superstitious,” was his straight and immediate reaction, adding: “All eight teams that are through are very tough no matter where you play them. We’re thankful that it’s going to be at Ravenhill because we’ve got great support there.

“The stadium is looking great at the moment, but we’ll keep working hard, keep our feet on the ground and, hopefully, we can progress further.”