Pienaar to consider retirement

Francois Pienaar, Saracens' former South African captain, may be ready to retire at the end of the season. The man who led the Springboks to their finest hour when they won the 1995 World Cup is ready to call time on a glorious playing career but is desperate to remain at Saracens.

Pienaar is in negotiations with the club owner, Nigel Wray, over his future and faces a potential battle with the Department of Education and Employment for a work permit.

"I am seriously thinking about retiring at the end of this season," Pienaar said. "I was lying in the mud during training the other day and I thought to myself that this was not what I needed at this stage of my career.

"It is something which I have been thinking about for a while. Injuries and other things have made me look at this situation. I am discussing things with Nigel [Wray], and he wants me to stay at Saracens. I really love this club and want to help take it forward. There is a situation with work permits which needs to be sorted out, and I hope that can happen soon."

The problem for Pienaar rests on his lack of British ancestry and scarcity of coaching at international level, although his playing credentials are in no doubt.

However, since he arrived three-and-a-half years ago the north London club have gone from perennial strugglers to Tetley's Bitter Cup winners and Premiership high-fliers.

"I believe totally in this product and being able to help it grow," Pienaar added. "Nigel is a rugby man through and through and he really wants this game to succeed. I have to talk to him and work out what we are going to do and what role I will take on here - but I want to stay.

"Hopefully we can get everything agreed and we can take Saracens forward. We have come a long way."