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Major coup for Pro14 outfit Cheetahs as Pienaar returns home

The former Ulster scrum-half has signed for the South African side after a spell in France with Montpellier.

FORMER ULSTER SCRUM-HALF Ruan Pienaar is in line for a return to Kingspan Stadium next season after signing a two-year contract with Guinness Pro14 outfit the Cheetahs. 

The 35-year-old has joined the South African side ahead of the 2019/20 season after a two-year spell in France with Montpellier.

Montpellier's Ruan Pienaar with referee John Lacey Pienaar will be back playing in the Pro14 next season. Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

Pienaar’s move home had been mooted for some time following the tragic death of his sister in a car crash last February. 

The 88-times capped Springbok had been linked with a return to Ulster, where he spent seven years, but for obvious reasons he has opted to continue his playing career closer to home.

Pienaar was a hugely-popular player in Belfast before his departure in 2017 and will be sure to receive a warm welcome if he returns to face Ulster in Cheetahs colours next season. 

The addition of Pienaar is a major coup for the Cheetahs — who are in Conference A alongside Ulster and Leinster — ahead of the new campaign, after they struggled to just eight wins in their 21 Pro14 games last term.  

“The Free State Cheetahs is delighted to confirm the signing of former Springbok scrum-half, Ruan Pienaar, who wishes to further his rugby career in the Free State,” a statement read. 

Pienaar comes in as a direct replacement for Shaun Venter, who is joining the Ospreys, while Nico Lee is also leaving the Cheetahs ahead of the new season. 

Lee, the centre who received a 13-week ban for ‘clearing the contents of his nose into the face’ of Connacht flanker Colby Fainga’a last season, is heading to Brive in France. 

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“Both received good offers and we would like to wish them all the best,” the Cheetahs said.

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Ryan Bailey

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