CAPE TOWN – Looking at how Bulls coach Pote Human spoke about Embrose Papier earlier this year, recapping the scrumhalf’s season leaves one with more questions than answers.
How does a talent - a Springbok at that - like Papier slump to third in line at his franchise?
Ahead of their 2019 Super Rugby opener against the Stormers, Human was quoted as saying:
“You can’t tell him what to do because he is a special player with special talents” said the Bulls coach after confirming that Papier would start at Newlands.
“He must play what he sees in front of him and be given the opportunity to express himself and show us his talent. If you put him in a set mindset you will restrict his ability to express himself and that will hamper his development. He has a great feeling for the game.
I really believe that this will be the year he comes of age and shows the world what he is truly made of. He has a big heart and, most importantly, he has a good head on his shoulders and I am looking forward to seeing him play this year.”
That last quote alone is enough to lead to non-stop head-scratching.
None of that praise and apparent high-regard resulted in actually treating Papier properly.
This year didn’t present the 22-year-old with enough chances to “show the world” what he is truly made of. Not by a long shot. Heck, at one stage this season he had to settle for a Rugby Challenge crowd.
Selecting Ivan van Zyl and Andre Warner ahead of him certainly didn’t help his chances, especially in a World Cup year, and one has to ask if Papier is just going to go down the rather wide road of mismanaged and forgotten players.
As unpleasant as that visual might be, it wouldn’t be bizarre given what’s been happening in 2019.
Earlier this week, SA Rugby announced that a group of 26 players assembled in Pretoria on Sunday for an alignment and conditioning camp, with the Bulls and Sharks players who played in the Super Rugby quarter-finals set to join the camp from Monday (Papier didn’t even get a run in Wellington).@WynonaLouw