Ruan Pienaar insists he is desperate to make his final season at Ulster his very best after opening their Guinness PRO12 campaign with a 29-8 victory over Newport Gwent Dragons.
The scrum-half got his name on the scoresheet in the second half of a convincing win for the Irish province, after debutant Rob Lyttle and Jacob Stockdale crossed the whitewash to give them the lead at the interval.
The Dragons had taken an early lead through Nick Macleod’s penalty and a Pat Howard try, but there was no coming back as Ulster were rampant in the second half – Lyttle adding his second and Rob Herring sealing a bonus point.
It has been a rollercoaster week for Pienaar, after it was announced the former Springbok would not be able to renew his contract at the Kingspan Stadium after seven seasons at the club, but the 32-year-old is simply determined to end on a high note.
“Emotionally is has been a very tough week for me and the family but it was good to go out there and put in a performance and get the win,” he said.
“It was very special to get a reception like I have. I have been here for so long, I feel like part of the furniture, I love this club and it means so much to me.
“I felt very emotional tonight but it wasn’t about me, all I was concentrating on was this game, the team and the next ten months. It’s about putting in performances for the rest of the time that I wear this jersey.
“The last six seasons at this club has been very special and that’s why I am so desperate to make this campaign the best yet.
“It would be massive to finish this season with silverware, it would be massive for me and for the team – and that’s very much the aim.
“Hopefully we can build on this performance and this result, keep improving and have something to show for our efforts at the end of the season.”
Guinness PRO12 Final 2017 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 adults and €5 child, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie. For further information visit http://www.pro12rugby.com/final