“There were other options but when I met with the coach (Hunt) … his interest in my family touched me, and it made it easy for me to make the decision. It is an honour to play for the (league) champions and I wanted to play in Africa, so the option was on the table and it was an easy decision for me to make,” said Pienaar on Tuesday as Wits presented him and four other signings – defenders Slavko Damjanovic and Bokang Tlhone and midfielders Daylon Claasen and Kobamelo Kodisang – in the new club kit.
The 35-year-old Pienaar has always said that part of the reason for moving back to South Africa to finish his playing career is to be close to his family, and his mother and daughter are likely to be in the crowd when Wits open their season on August 11 with a MTN8 quarterfinal at home to Golden Arrows.
“I am happy because my daughter and mum haven’t seen me play for a long time now – I think they are more excited than me,” said Pienaar.
“It is good to be back home and playing in front of people from Joburg, I know a lot of people from Westbury are going to come to the ground … I am looking forward to my first game and hopefully I can help the club defend the trophy.”
Hunt stressed the importance of managing Pienaar’s game time well this season – he has had his injury problems in recent years.
“We have to handle him cleverly, we can’t just throw him into situations, as the days have gone by. We have played him for 30, 40, 50, 60 minutes, today (in a friendly against Cape Town All Stars) maybe he played 75 … you need to be clever,” said the Wits coach, whose side certainly face plenty of games in the coming season, as they will again feature in the Caf Champions League next year.
Pienaar will also play a role as a mentor to some of the younger players like 17-year-old Kodisang, who some are already comparing to the former Ajax, Everton, Tottenham and Sunderland man.