Ruan Pienaar ruled out of South Africa northern hemisphere tour

Ulster scrum-half "needs a few more weeks of rehabilitation" to overcome a knee ligament injury

Ulster scrum-half Ruan Pienaar has been ruled out of South Africa’s spring tour with a knee ligament injury.

The 30-year-old was injured while on Springboks duty against New Zealand in September and has failed to recover ahead of their first Test against Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.

With the 80-time capped international unavailable to face England, Italy and Wales on their Castle Lager Outgoing Tour, Boks head coach Heyneke Meyer has called up Blue Bulls scrum-half Jano Vermaak, who played three times in 2013, with Vermaak’s club team-mate Francois Hougaard expected to take the nine jersey at the Aviva Stadium.

“Ruan was re-assessed on Tuesday following on-field fitness tests from Monday,” said South Africa team doctor, Craig Roberts.

“Unfortunately he has developed some swelling and puffiness around the knee, indicating that he is not yet ready to partake in full training and playing in a match.

“He needs a few more weeks of rehabilitation before he’ll be ready to return to play and hence we have taken the decision to rule him out.”

Meyer admitted the Springboks will miss Pienaar’s experience, but they aren’t short of options at scrum-half. Goal-kicking duties will remain with their outside-halves.

“We’ll miss his experience, especially when it comes to playing rugby in the northern hemisphere, but luckily Jano knows our structures and should not have a problem to slot back in,” Meyer said.

“The decision to bring in Jano was because he is familiar with our structures and is also very experienced, especially since Cobus Reinach is still in his first season of Test rugby.

“There are a number of good young scrum-halves in South Africa, but to bring someone in who has not yet trained with us in a pivotal position such as scrum-half would’ve been a risk.”

Vermaak is expected to join up with the rest of the Springboks in Dublin on Wednesday.

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