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It's time to move on from Ruan Pienaar departure, says defiant IRFU chief David Nucifora

By Jonathan Bradley

IRFU Performance Director David Nucifora has said the time has come for Ulster to move on from Ruan Pienaar. In a media briefing given at the Aviva Stadium yesterday, the Australian claimed that any short-term strife after the South African's impending exit would be outweighed by future benefits.

"I didn't think there was that much criticism," he said of the decision not to sanction an extension for the Springbok, who has been at Ulster since 2010.

"I think it was a fairly clear cut situation, to be honest. Ruan has been a great servant for Ulster Rugby over seven years.

"Did we think it would be wise for him to stay for nine years? No. I mean, that doesn't fit in with any of our plans. His role within Ulster Rugby, he's done a great job, but it's time to move on."

Citing the performance of Joey Carbery, who has gone from playing in the All-Ireland League final in May to the cusp of an Ireland debut after Ian Madigan left Leinster for Bordeaux-Begles, Nucifora said that he was sure a local product would emerge to fill the void Pienaar leaves.

"I've just referred to Joey Carbery coming through. When someone moves on people think, 'Gosh, we'll never replace him, we'll never find someone to fill that spot'," he said.

"But there's always someone who comes through once that opportunity presents itself.

"It may be uncomfortable for a short period of time but I'm sure that someone will put their hand up now that an opportunity presents itself."

The former hooker, who arrived in Irish Rugby in April 2014, appeared to confirm that Pienaar's replacement would indeed have to be Irish-qualified.

"When we have four half-backs and four hookers running out every week and we have one of those positions taken up by one ineligible player, that presents a number of challenges," he added.

"When we have two then that's a real problem, isn't it? It can't just be about the here and now for us."

Belfast Telegraph


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