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Ruan Pienaar's rumoured Ulster return is unlikely to happen...yet

By Jonathan Bradley

Reports linking Ruan Pienaar with a swift return to Ulster Rugby are believed to be premature.

The scrum-half, who left Ulster last summer after the IRFU refused to sanction a contract extension, remains a hero in the province after seven seasons of stellar service but has spent the last year in Montpellier.

Despite excelling in the south of France, and playing a starring role as his new side booked their place in this weekend's Top 14 final, reports surfaced in South Africa over the weekend that the former World Cup winner had turned down a recall to the Springbok set-up for this summer's Test series as he planned to retire and return to Ulster as a coach.

Montpellier defeated Lyon 40-14 and face Castres in this Saturday's final.

While it is still planned that 34-year-old Pienaar will come back to his adopted home in the near future, and having taken out citizenship, it is not believed to be imminent and he still has a year to run on his deal in France with an option for a further season.

Ulster will welcome new coach Dan McFarland to Kingspan next season to replace former head coach Jono Gibbes, while Jared Payne was this morning confirmed as the province's defence coach.

Attack and scrum coaches Dwayne Peel and Aaron Dundon, hired originally by Les Kiss who departed in January, are holdovers on the coaching ticket.

Big changes in the Ulster backroom staff have also been instigated by the IRFU.

Long-serving and popular head physio Gareth Robinson announced last week that he will be leaving the province after 18 years service, a move that seemingly came with little warning or opportunity for a farewell.

Strength and Conditioning coach Jonny Davis, who has been at Ravenhill since 2006, is also understood to be parting company with the organisation.

Belfast Telegraph

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