PRETORIA – Springbok scrumhalf Embrose Papier is a very patient young man.
Unlike most of his peers who are frantically looking for a quick way to the top of professional rugby, the 21-year-old is now taking the time to fine tune his craft having enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top this year.
However in all the highs of making his Super Rugby debut for the Bulls and becoming a Springbok, Papier’s patience has been tested in recent weeks as he has had to watch from the sidelines with little game time for the Boks during the Rugby Championship.
In fact, Papier has not played more than 10 minutes of international rugby in the Rugby Championship, having to watch the incumbent Bok halfback Faf de Klerk rack up almost all of the available mileage.
So it won’t come as a surprise if the pocket rocket Papier is ready to explode when he makes an appearance for the Blue Bulls in their final round-robin fixture in the Currie Cup against Western Province at Loftus on Saturday. Papier will be one of four Boks returning from national duty to play for the Bulls with fellow scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl, loose forward Marco van Staden and prop Trevor Nyakane almost certain to feature in the north-south derby.
“It’s good to be back at the Bulls and I’ve learnt a lot during my time at the Springboks with Faf. He is an experienced guy and he taught me a lot. But I think coming back is to focus on myself and the team and to take what I’ve learnt into the Currie Cup,” said Papier yesterday.
While Papier is the first one to acknowledge that time spent with the national team enhanced him as a person and player, he does admit to have been frustrated at times more especially with many people asking him when he is going to play.
“Ja it was quite frustrating because everyone was asking me why I’m not playing and everything. But I just learnt a lot with them and focussed on the game. Coach Rassie (Erasmus) told me what the plans are for me and that I must take in things slowly and we’ll take it from there,” he said.
As frustrating as it has been for many rugby followers who feel that Papier has been handed a raw deal, the pint-sized former Hoerskool Garsfontein pupil has no plans of exploding on the field on Saturday against Province in a bid to make a stronger case for himself particularly at national team level.
“I’m really focussed on playing according to the game plan and what will come in the game will come. If it means I must have a go then I will, but my focus is on the game plan and staying calm,” Papier said.