Springbok coach Peter de Villiers lauded Ruan Pienaar’s performances at flyhalf.
De Villiers took a calculated gamble to play Pienaar at pivot for the year-end tour Tests, and it was a gamble that paid dividends. Pienaar showed an aptitude for the role, displaying a complete skill set over the three Tests he played at flyhalf.
It is yet unclear whether Pienaar will be retained at flyhalf for the Lions series in mid 2009, or whether De Villiers will opt for the experience of Butch James, who is enjoying a good season with Premiership side Bath. For now he preferred to focus on Pienaar’s contribution.
“I was very, very happy with the way Ruan came through on this tour,” said De Villiers. “You guys [the media] know how well he can read a match and what a superb tactical player he is.
“He has a sense of how to keep the tempo of a game going forward, an eye for the break and an awareness of space and position. I think he’s quite probably the best all-round player in South Africa.
“We took him over as a flyhalf because we need good number 10s in this country and he has shown he can be the man we are looking for.”
De Villiers also gave the tour overall a pass mark, although he did concede that there were areas of their play that demanded attention.
“We reached our goals on this tour and some things went to plan and others need some more looking at,” said De Villiers. “We got a lot out of the guys and found out just how deep they can dig into themselves when they are asked to.”