Ruan Pienaar admits he would ‘love’ to secure a Springbok spot ahead of the World Cup.
The 27-year-old featured on South Africa’s tour of Europe last autumn but is by no means sure of a place at this year’s global gathering.
South Africa may have moved away from their strict policy of only selecting domestic-based players but Pienaar’s decision to move to Ulster earlier this season may still count against him.
Springbok head coach Peter de Villiers invited a panel of 51 players to attend a squad planning session last week and none of his foreign-based stars were included.
The first Springbok squad of the season will be named on July 2 or 9, depending on South African representation in the Vodacom Super Rugby final and Pienaar would love to be among the elite. He intends to return home this summer for a holiday but he hopes he will also be taking part in the World Cup holders’ defence of their 2007 crown.
"I've been playing rugby since January 2010 and the body has taken a beating. So I'm looking forward to having a few weeks off back home in the summer to get a break," said Pienaar, who is just three caps short of a half century.
"But I'd love to get a call from Peter de Villiers and go to the World Cup with the Springboks.
"There is a lot of talent back home and a lot of players are putting up their hands in the Super 15, but I'd love to be considered."
Pienaar has certainly been doing everything he possibly can to attract de Villiers’ attention during his stint in Northern Ireland.
The Bloemfontein-born half back has been in superb form for his new side, making 22 appearances since claiming a 19-point haul on his debut against Glasgow Warriors at the beginning of October.
Pienaar has shared the Ravenhill kicking duties with Ian Humphreys but has still managed 119 points in 15 Magners League matches and was the Belfast province’s last-gasp hero against the Scarlets, Dragons and Glasgow in recent weeks.
The former Sharks utility capped a fine domestic campaign by being crowned the Magners League Players’ Player of the Season at an awards dinner in Dublin.
And with plenty of personal accolades having been thrown his way since making the switch from the southern hemisphere to the north, Pienaar is now hoping to finish on a collective high by guiding Ulster to the Magners League crown, starting with Friday’s semi-final against Leinster.
"It has been an unbelievable first season for me at Ulster," added Pienaar.
"I came to a place where I didn't know anyone, and where the weather is very different to South Africa, and everyone has helped me to fit in very quickly.
"I have really enjoyed my time here so far and, as a young and fairly inexperienced team, we have done well to reach the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup and the semi-finals of the Magners League.
"We have had a couple of close games that have helped us to build some good character and guts and, hopefully, we can finish the season on a high."