Stean Pienaar has been impressive so far this season. Photo: Willem Loock/BackpagePix
Rugby teams rarely focus on individuals but the Griquas players will certainly watch Lions wing Stean Pienaar a little more closely when the teams clash in a Currie Cup semi-final at Ellis Park this afternoon.

Pienaar was a real thorn in the side of Griquas in Kimberley last week when the teams met in the final round-robin game of this year’s competition, which the Lions won 27-26. The 22-year-old winger scored two tries - the first after an intercept and the second after a jinking run that left the defenders clutching at air.

Pienaar, who came into the Currie Cup as a relative unknown, has been one of his team’s standout players this season. His powerful runs have made observers take notice, but it’s no fluke he’s become something of a talking point.

“I’m a driven guy... I don’t like to be average,” he said this week, when talking about his Currie Cup campaign so far.

“I want to be extraordinary. I want to be better than my opponent, out-work him. My job is to do the business out wide, to finish off and score tries ... it’s a determination and hunger to reward and pay back the guys on my inside who’ve done the work.’”

Pienaar only returned to playing top level rugby earlier this year after serving a two-year ban for using a banned substance, Letrozole.

He’d made a big name for himself as a junior before being banned, and is now hopeful his performances in the Currie Cup will lead to bigger things in future.“Of course the long-term goal is to play Super Rugby, and sure, the Currie Cup is a stepping stone to get there. But first, we need to do the business here this weekend.

“It’s been a great campaign for me. I’ve learnt a lot and feel I’ve improved every week. I’m excited about the future.”

Pienaar said the fact the Lions faced - and beat - Griquas a week ago would stand them in good stead for the semi-final.

“What we learnt last weekend is that if we trust our structures fully, we can cause some serious damage. If we put the foot down we need to keep it there.

“At a stage last week (after being 19-0 up) we eased off on the pressure and they turned around and put the pressure on us (and Griquas fought back to lead 21-19 at one stage).

“We now know that when we’ve got the knife in, we must keep turning it. They’re going to come hard at us, they’re going to be desperate to win and make up for losing at home last weekend, and giving up top spot on the log. They’ll be hurting.”

The winner of today’s match at Ellis Park (kick-off 2pm) will face either the Free State or the Sharks, who meet in Bloemfontein at 5pm, in next week’s final.


Saturday Star