Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Embrose Papier can add value to the Springboks — Jake White

The Bulls boss has come out in support of his in-form scrumhalf, who has been left out of a squad that will attend a national alignment camp next month.

Bulls scrumhalf Embrose Papier was one of the unlucky in-form players to miss out on selection to the first Springbok alignment camp of the season, after a group of 43-players from around the country was named earlier this week.

Papier has been in great form for the Bulls this season, and highlighted that with back to back man-of-the-match performances against the Lions in the two Jukskei derbies in Pretoria and Johannesburg over the past month.

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In both those games Papier was arguably the major difference, making superb contributions, including scoring a try in the 30-28 win at Loftus, while a brilliant break from a scrum on the halfway line set up Canan Moodie for his try in their 25-10 win at Ellis Park over the past weekend.

Papier is already a seven cap Springbok and played all of his games during Rassie Erasmus’ first tenure as Bok coach in 2018, but has not managed to break back into the squad since being left out ahead of the 2019 World Cup.

National setup

Despite him missing out on the first alignment camp of the season, Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White believes Papier has what it takes to get back into the Bok system and that he can add positive value to the national team.

“He has played really well. He is a (former) Springbok. What can I say? I am hoping that he keeps going,” said White after the Lions win.

“Not every player that leaves the Bulls becomes a Springbok (likely a nod to Manie Libbok who has found success at the Stormers and made the Boks after leaving the Bulls). Sometimes we keep guys back and they also become Springboks, so I am hoping that he will (keep) playing well enough and he will get a crack at getting brought into the national setup again.

“I know he’s rated highly and with the way he’s playing now a lot of people are going to see that he adds value. So let’s hope that he carries on playing (well) over the year and gets that opportunity.”

Time off

The Bulls now have another week’s break before they face the Stormers at Loftus next weekend and they will hope the momentum built up in their two Jukskei derby wins over the Lions won’t be spoiled by the constant time off between matches.

“Sometimes you play a lot and get game hardened and sometimes time off helps. We had a lot of time off and we played really well in the second half (against the Lions),” explained White.

“So I don’t think there’s an exact science on it. You only know after the next fixture, which is the Stormers game, whether we needed another game (to build momentum) before it.

“I wish we could organise a friendly against someone. But I am not convinced that the way we have been planning that we now have to change things that have been working for us.”

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