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
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 himself to being second to Faf de Klerk.
While Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus may have been backed into a corner and had his hand forced in selecting Papier, it resulted in a win-win scenario for Erasmus and Papier.
Having been handed his first Test cap in June against Wales in Washington, Papier has been handed crumbs when it comes to game time and has spent most of his time with the Springboks either carrying tackle bags or suffering from splinters from sitting on the bench.
In fact, there have been fears that Papier’s inactivity was only serving to hamper his obvious talents and progress into the higher echelons of international rugby.
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’s performance that Erasmus kept him on the field for almost the entire duration of the match with replacement Ivan 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 backs and in ensuring that his side got crisp and quick service with ball in hand.
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 surviving 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.
“I really think that in the case of Embrose, we got it right,” said Erasmus.
“We thought this was the right game for him, on this pitch and the way Scotland play suits him well, and he also handled it very well.
“Credit must also go to (Springbok assistant coaches) Mzwandile Stick and Swys de Bruin for the way they’ve blooded him into Test match rugby.”
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 Springbok team.