Papier to make his first start at No 9 against a tough Scotland team
Coach Rassie Erasmus yesterday unveiled his Springbok side to play Scotland, with a total of six changes from the team who eked out that narrow win against France last Saturday.
The changes are all essentially enforced, and despite the seemingly big number, there are actually only two differences in the starting line-up. In the forwards, there was hope that Eben Etzebeth could be ready for the Test after he showed promising signs early in the week of making a full recovery, but he fell short of full fitness.
“Unfortunately Eben is still not fully fit and it’s this which gives RG Snyman another great opportunity to start against one of the top rugby sides,” Erasmus said.
Snyman starts his fourth game for the Boks after being a mainstay in the June internationals against England. The abrasive lock brings his own brand of aggression which will agreeably compliment Franco Mostert’s work in the tight-loose, but also highlight the grunt of Duane Vermeulen and Malcolm Marx.
Snyman joins Mostert in the second row with Pieter-Steph du Toit taking up a role on the flank, with Duane Vermeulen taking up his preferred role at No 8.
“Moving Duane and Pieter-Steph around in the pack isn’t disrupting at all, as both of them are very experienced and have played for us in these positions earlier in the season,” the coach explained.
In the backs, Embrose Papier gets his chance to start a game for the first time after regular No 9 Faf de Klerk was released to his English club, Sale Sharks.
Papier has a massive opportunity to prove his worth after being in De Klerk’s shadow since being selected for the Bok squad.
Erasmus is confident that his team will have what it takes to bring down an impressive Scotland side that have built a formidable home record over the past two seasons under coach Gregor Townsend.
Since the start of 2017, they have lost only one of their nine Tests at Murrayfield, which was last year against New Zealand. During this time, they’ve beaten Ireland, England, Wales, France and Australia at home.
“Scotland is a well-coached side, they are difficult to break down and they will present us with a very tough challenge at Murrayfield,” said Erasmus.
“The matches in the northern hemisphere are all closely-fought encounters, with the set-piece battle key; and it’s important to grab the big moments and finish your opportunities.”