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By Trevor Stevens


Rock, Papier, scissors

When he's included in the match23, why the hell not give him a chance to prove his worth with a start, or at least a lengthy spell on the park?

At long last Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus has decided to give scrumhalf Embrose Papier a start.

The 21-year-old will start in the national No 9 jersey for the first time this evening when he runs on against Scotland at Murrayfield.

The Bulls scrumhalf has just five Test caps to his name since making his debut against Wales in the United States in June, but all appearances have been cameos in the dying minutes of a Test.

In fact, he has only played 27 minutes of Test rugby and has warmed the bench for the entire 80 minutes on three occasions – against Australia, home and away, and last week against France in Paris.

I’m not for one second saying I’m a massive fan of Papier but to be honest, I haven’t had the opportunity to see what he is capable of at international level.

There is no way you can judge a player’s credentials from a few minutes on the park here and there at the end of a Test.

If the national rugby team’s management have gone to the effort of picking him for training camps, selecting him for tours and including him in their match23, then why the hell not give him a chance to prove his worth with a start, or at least a lengthy spell on the park?

After all, Papier played two years for SA Schools and then for two years for the SA under-20s.

When incumbent No 9 Faf de Klerk was initially ruled out of the end-of-year tour due to club commitments for the Sale Sharks, most thought this would be Embrose’s chance to stake a claim ahead of next year’s World Cup in Japan.

In four Tests, against quality opposition, he would get a few starts, or at the very least, make an impact in the second half when entering the fray.

However, for the England Test, which South Africa lost 12-11 at Twickenham two weeks ago, Erasmus opted for his Bulls teammate, Ivan van Zyl, with the coach saying: “I just think conditions and the tactical way England will play, maybe Ivan is a better fit for the start. Embrose is a more instinctive player which is great on the hard ground.”

Let’s hope Embrose uses that instinct and does his talking on the field today.

It’s the very least he deserves.

Trevor Stevens

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Columns Springboks (Bokke/Boks)