Ruan Pienaar is a vital component to a Springbok match day squad capable of world rugby domination.
Pienaar will start in the absence of Fourie du Preez against Argentina in Mendoza, but Pienaar’s ultimate value to the Bok cause will be as a player who provides cover for 9, 10, 14 and 15 and who provides back-up as a goal kicker.
Pienaar is a very good goal kicker and has excelled for Ulster in this role. He is also a very good starting scrumhalf, even though he (like every other South African scrumhalf) is never going to offer the unique talent of Du Preez.
However, with Du Preez showing he still has the desire to play for the Boks and, if fit, the obvious first choice in the lead in to the 2015 World Cup, Pienaar’s role changes.
Pienaar’s versatility allows for Bok coach Heyneke Meyer to stack the bench with forwards and play a six-two forwards and backs split. Pienaar covers every position except centre and he covers the goalkicker. This allows for the accommodation of a specialist centre among the substitutes.
Having Du Preez and Pienaar available opens huge opportunities to Meyer that are not options to any other international coaches.
The potency of the Boks was illustrated because of the quality of the bench in the Rugby Championship opener against the Pumas in Soweto. The Boks were able to increase the tempo of the game and be ruthless. They lost nothing in terms of quality when the likes of Bismarck du Plessis and Fourie du Preez were introduced.
Imagine the impact of introducing a near complete pack of forwards with 20 or 30 minutes to go?
South Africa’s forward pack currently is looking very good. To be able to play 14 out of a possible 16 Bok forwards in a game is the equivalent of having a one man advantage – and it’s down to Pienaar.