Pienaar has to prove fitness

Coach wary of taking risks on key man after ankle blow

Last Updated: 27/07/09 2:33pm

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Pienaar: Fitness fight

Pienaar: Fitness fight

Sky Bet

South Africa flyhalf Ruan Pienaar faces a battle to prove his fitness ahead of the weekend after damaging his ankle against New Zealand.

Pienaar and Jean de Villiers were both withdrawn during the 28-19 Tri-Nations victory on Saturday and, while De Villiers was simply suffering from cramp, it appears Pienaar is now doubtful for the second match against the All Blacks in Durban.

Team doctor Craig Roberts has confirmed Pienaar is suffering with a sprained ankle but he believes he is likely to be available for Saturday's game.

"Ruan rolled his ankle in a tackle just before half-time," he said.

"We had the opportunity to assess him properly at half-time and we decided it was better to pull him then rather than risk further injury.

"He has a grade one ankle sprain (but) he did some straight-line running today and we are optimistic that he will be ready for this week's game."

Risk

However, coach Peter de Villiers has suggested that he may rest Pienaar if there is any possibility of further damage.

"Ruan is a guy you can build a side around and, because of his injury on the weekend, we may need to manage him better to get him through the next five games," he said.

"I will take my cue from the doctor because, although Ruan was running in a straight line, rugby is about more than that.

"To put him on the field if he is not 100 per cent fit can damage a player's future.

"We want to make sure we do the best thing for ourselves and the player."

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