Ruan makes Magners Dream Team
Published 03/05/2011 | 07:00
South African scrum half Ruan Pienaar has become only the third Ulster player to make the Magners League Dream Team.
Pienaar, a big summer signing from the Sharks, was the overwhelming choice for the No 9 shirt polling 13 votes, 10 more them his nearest rival for the scrum half berth.
The four Irish provinces provide eight of the XV with Leinster having five.
Pienaar has helped Ulster to the brink of a semi-final place, with Brian McLaughlin’s men needing just a losing bonus point from their last game against the Dragons at Rodney Parade on Friday night to make the last four.
Pienaar scored all of Ulster’s 19 points on his debut against Glasgow and has accumulated 119 points in his 14 Magners League games.
But it has been his important match-winning kicks that have helped Ulster up to third in the table.
With Ulster staring down the barrel of defeat at the Scarlets Pienaar landed a long-range penalty with the final kick of the game to win it 18-16.
At home to the Dragons, Ulster once again found themselves trailing going into the dying seconds but Pienaar held his nerve and won the match with a sweetly-struck drop goal.
A week later at Glasgow Pienaar was again the match winner with another late penalty.
He is only the third Ulster -player to make the team of the season — Australian lock Justin Harrison was voted on in 2006 for a string of fine performances as Ulster lifted the title, and Ireland and British Lions winger Tommy Bowe, in his last season at Ulster, made the 2008 team.
Leinster No 8 Jamie Heaslip and Edinburgh wing Tim Visser are the only players who retain their places from last season’s selection, and Heaslip’s fifth successive nomination means he is the only ever-present member of the dream team since it was first selected in the 2006/2007 season.
Magners League Dream Team 2010/2011: I Nacewa (Leinster); F Carr (Connacht), C Laulala (Cardiff Blues), J Davies (Scarlets), T Visser (Edinburgh); R O’Gara (Munster), R Pienaar (Ulster); I Thomas (Scarlets), R Strauss (Leinster), M Ross (Leinster), A Wyn Jones (Ospreys), R Gray (Glasgow Warriors), S O’Brien (Leinster), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues) J Heaslip (Leinster).