He has been gathering ‘splinters’ on the Springbok bench all year long, and now Embrose Papier’s role as a substitute will continue at the Blue Bulls.
Despite backing up Faf de Klerk throughout the Rugby Championship, Papier was not handed the No 9 jersey by Bulls coach Pote Human on Thursday for Saturday’s Currie Cup north-south derby against Western Province at Loftus Versfeld.
Instead, another Bok halfback in Ivan van Zyl has been given the nod to start in the big game of the weekend (5.15pm kickoff).
The move makes little sense, as Papier is the next-in-line on the national scrumhalf pecking order and needs as much game time as possible, after playing about just 24 minutes for the Springboks in 2018.
And with doubts about England-based Faf de Klerk’s availability for the end-of-year tour to Europe still circling, Bok coach Rassie Erasmus would’ve wanted to see Papier in action this weekend.
Two other Bok candidates, though, will start for the Bulls, with tighthead prop Trevor Nyakane back on the field after spending time in the national camp doing conditioning work, while Marco van Staden will wear the No 7 against Province.
15 Divan Rossouw 14 Jamba Ulengo 13 Johnny Kotze 12 Franco Naudé 11 Jade Stighling 10 Manie Libbok 9 Ivan van Zyl 8 Hanro Liebenberg (captain) 7 Marco van Staden 6 Ruan Steenkamp 5 Eli Snyman 4 Hendré Stassen 3 Trevor Nyakane 2 Jaco Visagie 1 Matthys Basson.
Bench: 16 Edgar Maruthulle 17 Dayan van der Westhuizen 18 Ruan Nortjé 19 Nic de Jager 20 Embrose Papier 21 Tinus de Beer 22 Dylan Sage.