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European champions Toulon line up move for Ulster's Ruan Pienaar

The 29-year-old is involved in negotiations with the province as his contract expires next summer.

Ruan Pienaar has been with Ulster since 2010.
Ruan Pienaar has been with Ulster since 2010.
Image: INPHO/Billy Stickland

ULSTER RUGBY ARE refusing to comment of speculation linking Ruan Pienaar with a move to Toulon next summer.

French newspaper L’Equipe has reported that the reigning Heineken Cup champions have contacted the South African with a view to securing his services. Pienaar has been with Ulster since 2010. He plays primarily at scrumhalf but is comfortable covering the No.10 jersey.

Pienaar is one of several foreign players at Ulster that will be out of contract in the summer. The province have officially told TheScore.ie that they have ‘no comment’ to make on the speculation. Ulster would not normally discuss player’s contracts of future plans while negotiations are ongoing.

Having scored 510 points in 63 games with the province, and started at scrumhalf in Heineken Cyup [2012] and RaboDirect Pro12 [2013] finals, Ulster have come to rely on Pienaar’s goal-kicking and play-making services.

The 29-year-old addressed the nature of player moves and the professional game earlier this year. During an interview with TheScore.ie Pienaar urged teammate Stephen Ferris, who was linked with a switch to Japanese rugby, to stay on. However, he added:

If he decides to leave, it would be a massive loss for us. It’s a professional sport, though, and things like that happen.”

Toulon currently have four scrumhalves on their books, the most notable of whom is 59-times capped French international Frédéric Michalak. The Top 14 side won their first ever Heineken Cup in May when they defeated Clermont Auvergne at Lansdowne Road.

Meanwhile, Connacht Eagles’ match with Leinster ‘A’ has been cancelled as the eastern province withdrew from the game. A Leinster spokesperson commented, “With a heavy Age Grade programme this weekend and the Pro12 match on Friday it wasn’t possible to play the game.”

With Leinster’s Lions players not due back until the end of September and injuries befalling the likes of Fergus McFadden, Luke Fitzgerald and Darren Hudson, the province may have to dip into its Academy against Glasgow Warriors this weekend.

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Patrick McCarry

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