DURBAN – On announcing the Springbok team to play against Scotland tomorrow at Murrayfield, there was little surprise to see Embrose Papier’s name down in the starting lineup. The Bulls man has been prepped to get his first start for the Boks for some time now, and it is only due to an enforced change that it has happened.
Faf de Klerk, earlier this week, was announced as unavailable for the Scottish Test as he would be returning to England to play for his club, Sale Sharks. Of course, there has been no hiding that De Klerk is clearly coach Rassie Erasmus’ number one scrumhalf, but it is his deputies who have caused some concern.
Behind De Klerk there is Papier, as well as another Bulls scrumhalf in Ivan van Zyl. When De Klerk was unavailable against England, Erasmus handed Van Zyl the No 9 jersey stating that the game would suit him better despite Papier always seemingly being the number two in the pecking order.
Now, at last, Papier has been handed a chance to show what he is made of, the only issue is the promotion to the starting line up can be seen as a little sour because of its of a forced nature. De Klerk is out, Van Zyl had his shot and was adequate in his performance, but there was no other choice but for the coach to play Papier.
Erasmus has been saying since day one that he is looking to build depth. If one looks at the lock situation for example, there is an embarrassment of riches, and no concern about rotating the likes of Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Franco Mostert, Lood de Jager and RG Snyman, but at scrumhalf it is very different.
There have been times when Erasmus has played Papier on the wing, off the bench, rather than replace De Klerk, sending out worrying signals about the Boks’ strength at No 9.
It really is unknown about how much faith Erasmus has in his replacement No 9s, but the hope is that this forced situation will be enough for the gifted and exciting Papier to prove any misgivings about him wrong.
Papier is the only change in the backline for the Boks with Snyman coming in for the injured Etzebeth.
Snyman is a great addition to the Bok team as he brings his own brand of aggressive abrasion which will compliment well with Mostert’s work in the tight loose, but also highlight the grunt of Duane Vermeulen and Malcolm Marx. Vermeulen has also been switched back to his regular No 8 position with Du Toit moving to the flank.
It may seem like a small change, but it has been clear that Vermeulen plays his best rugby at No 8, embracing the nuances of that position.
Erasmus’ team is one that has been chosen out of necessity. Overall, the Boks lose nothing with the changes that have been made, but that can only really be said with absolute certainty if Papier lives up to the billing that made him a Bok to begin with.
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Sibusiso Nkosi, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Francois Louw, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Cheslin Kolbe.
15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Pete Horne, 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw (captain), 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Sam Skinner, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Ben Toolis, 3 Willem Nel, 2 Stuart McInally, 1 Gordon Reid.
Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Josh Strauss, 20 Jamie Ritchie, 21 Ali Price, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Chris Harris.@DarrynJack216
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