Pienaar and Marshall pen new Ulster deals
Rugby:Ulster today signed scrumhalves Ruan Pienaar and Paul Marshall up to new two-year deals that will keep them at the province until June 2014.
Pienaar has become a favourite of the Ravenhill crowds since joining Ulster in 2010 from Natal Sharks, while Marshall proved an able deputy when the South African was away at the World Cup earlier this season.
Ulster director of rugby David Humphreys admitted his delight at securing the services of the two players.
“We have been negotiating to retain Ruan since the summer and are delighted that he has chosen to extend his contract with us. He has been instrumental in the team’s success since joining us in 2010,” said the former Ireland outhalf.
“He’s a true match winner and a total professional from his attitude in the gym, through the mentoring role he plays with younger players to the quality of performance he delivers consistently each week.
“Paul took his opportunity at the start of the season when Ruan was at the World Cup and has really impressed with his performances, evident last week when he was involved in three of the four tries Ulster scored against Edinburgh. Paul has made a huge contribution to the squad in the last few years both on and off the field.”
Pienaar, who has been capped 51 times for the Springboks, was delighted with the new deal after settling well in his first two years.
“I’ve really enjoyed my first two seasons here and when the opportunity came to extend the deal I was very excited,” said Pienaar.
“I’ve made some good friends here and I’ve really enjoyed the rugby side. The people of Belfast have welcomed myself and my family with open arms and so it was an easy decision in the end.”
Meanwhile, Munster today received some good news following the loss of Denis Leamy for the season through injury after naming flanker Niall Ronan in their squad for Saturday’s Heineken Cup clash against Castres at Thomond Park.
Ronan went off with a knee injury in the first half of last weekend’s Pro12 clash against Treviso, and although he has not taken part in field training this week, Munster expect to be able to include him for the game against the French side.
Munster have opted against calling up a player from their Academy structure to cover for Leamy, who will undergo surgery on a troublesome hip injury.
MUNSTER (Squad): Forwards:Marcus Horan, John Ryan Wian Du Preez, Stephen Archer, BJ Botha, Damien Varley, Denis Fogarty, Donncha O’Callaghan, Donnacha Ryan, Paul O’Connell, Ian Nagle, Mick O’Driscoll, Peter O’Mahony, Billy Holland, Niall Ronan, James Coughlan.
Backs:Tomás O’Leary, Conor Murray, Duncan Williams, Ronan O’Gara, Ian Keatley, Danny Barnes, Simon Zebo, Will Chambers, Lifeimi Mafi, Keith Earls, Johne Murphy, Denis Hurley.