PRETORIA – Springbok scrumhalf Embrose Papier not only proved that he is up to playing Test rugby with his polished performance against Scotland, but has also leapfrogged Ivan van Zyl to become second choice after Faf de Klerk.
While Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus may have had his hand forced in selecting Papier, it resulted in a win-win scenario for both.
Having been handed his first Test cap in June against Wales in Washington, Papier has been given crumbs when it comes to game time and has spent most of his time with the Springboks sitting on the bench.
In fact, there have been fears that Papier’s inactivity was only serving to hamper his obvious talents. But Papier proved that class is permanent and he has plenty of it with a polished and measured performance in his first start for the Springboks.
So effective was Papier that Erasmus kept him on the field for almost the entire match with Van Zyl coming on in the last few minutes.
One of Papier’s strengths is the energy he injects with his speedy service and ability to snipe around the fringes, but on Saturday at Murrayfield the Bulls pocket rocket showed a mature side of his game by not trying to do too much.
It was in the ‘less’ that Papier was able to do ‘more’ - and without doing anything flashy, Papier did his primary job well of being the link between the forwards and back and in ensuring that his side got crisp and quick service with ball in hand.
Erasmus also lauded Embrose Papier, who started his first Test: “I think we got it right with Embrose. This was the right game for him . and he handled it very well. Credit also to Mzwandile Stick and Swys de Bruin (ass't coaches) for the way they blooded him for Test rugby." pic.twitter.com/4HbNohNisf— South African Rugby (@Springboks) November 18, 2018
Papier’s ability to get around the park quickly ensured that he was able to get to as many points of breakdown as possible, and his ability to make the right decisions when it comes to who to pass to.
Even more refreshing was Papier’s reluctance to kick away possession for the sake of playing a tactical game, and his appetite for the running game was highlighted by his contribution and hand in Jesse Kriel’s try.
In the aftermath of avoiding defeat at the hands of Scotland at Murrayfield, Erasmus would have been a much happier man for adding another win to his indifferent record, but more important it is the success story of Papier that will leave him with one less selection dilemma to worry about.
Papier proved to be the real deal and it is only a matter of time before he becomes the number one No 9 in the Bok team.@Vata_Ngobeni
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