There’s been a lot of controversy over Rassie Erasmus’ treatment of Embrose Papier, the Blue Bulls scrumhalf who debuted for the Springoks in Washington DC in June 2018.
Given transformation requirements in the Republic, the replacement scrummie often tends to be a “token selection” (an uncomfortable truth). Is it a simple case of over reliance on Faf de Klerk? Or is Papier not “trusted” by Erasmus? Is it a simple case of a lad who has talent, but is not deemed ready enough, and is therefore being groomed slowly?
Here are the list of games in which Papier was in the Match Day 23, and his minutes played
8 Games played, 29 minutes of game time, 11 of which were on the wing
v Wales June 2, 2018 (4 minutes at Wing in Washington DC, Springbok debut)
Not in the Match 23 for the first two tests v England
v England June 23, 2018 (5 minutes at SH in third test in Cape Town)
v Argentina Aug 18, 2018 (7 minutes at Wing in Durban)
v Argentina August 25, 2018 (Unused sub in Mendoza)
v Australia September 8, 2018 (Unused sub in Brisbane)
Replaced in Match 23 by Ross Cronje (also unused) in Wellington v NZ
v Australia September 29, 2018 (Unused sub in Port Elizabeth)
v New Zealand October 6, 2018 (7 minutes at SH in Pretoria)
v England November 3, 2018 (6 minutes at SH in London)
Not in Match 23 for test v France
Starting game v Scotland on November 17, 2018
Ivan van Zyl, who played the first two tests against England as replacement SH, also got < 10 minutes. Ross Cronje, as mentioned above, did not come off the bench in Wellington. Van Zyl started in Washington as well the test against England at Twickenham when Faf de Klerk was unavailable.
Papier is clearly talented- his schoolboy exploits at Garsfontein are testimony to that. However is he the best box kicker, a strategy favoured by Erasmus in recent times?
He had mentioned in his beginning of the season video at the Bulls that his goal was to make his Super Rugby debut. He’s even made it to the Boks, but has his development been handled the correct way? When he came on against the All Blacks in Pretoria, South Africa were leading 30-18. They ended up losing 32-30. How much has it affected his confidence? Is he just another player there to attain targets like Rudy Paige was?
Has Erasmus put all his scrum half eggs in the Faf de Klerk basket? How will the Boks fare if De Klerk is injured before the tournament?