Pretoria - Embrose Papier’s position in the Springbok team, and the lack of game time he received from the bench may well have been a talking point across the country over the last month, but the nippy scrumhalf is more than happy with the current role he has been assigned at the national squad, SuperSport.com reports.
Papier warmed the bench for most of the Rugby Championship and was limited to cameos as the Boks focused on playing Faf de Klerk in the tournament, leading to some questioning how this would help his development as a talented young player.
But now that he is back at the Blue Bulls and ready for this weekend’s Currie Cup clash against table-topping Western Province in the Currie Cup, Papier is very keen to play and to put what he has learnt into practice.
“Yes, it was quite frustrating because everyone was asking me why I’m not playing and everything. But I just learnt a lot with them and focussed on the game. Coach Rassie (Erasmus) told me what the plans are for me and that I must take in things slowly and we’ll take it from there,” Papier said.
“It’s good to be back at the Bulls and I’ve learnt a lot at my time at the Springboks with Faf. He is an experienced guy and he taught me a lot. But I think coming back is to focus on myself and the team and to take what I’ve learnt into the Currie Cup.”
While Western Province will arrive at Loftus as massive favourites following their unbeaten run in the competition, the stakes are high for the Bulls as well. They currently sit third and will want to avoid a return trip to Cape Town if they can help it. Add to that the psychological advantage they can get if they upset the odds, and they have much to play for.
Papier though, just wants to get on to the field and prove himself among his peers.
“I’m really focused on playing according to the game plan and what will come in the game will come. If it means I must have a go then I will but my focus is on the game plan and staying calm,” he explained.
“I have watched some of the games like the one against the Golden Lions and some of the Western Province games. I think the boys are ready for them.”
Papier knows his team are in for a fight this weekend.
“It is still a very difficult competition because everyone wants to win the Currie Cup. We’ve lost two matches to the Lions and Sharks and with the game against Western Province we will need to play for 80 minutes and fight hard.
“I’m really focussed on playing according to the game plan and what will come in the game will come. If it means I must have a go then I will but my focus is on the game plan and staying calm.”
He acknowledges that WP have been the form team this year in the Currie Cup, but believes if the Bulls forwards get on top, then they can do what is necessary to get the victory.
“They have been very good this season. It is going to take everything out of us to beat them and we will have to give it our all. But I also think if we can take them on in the forwards then we can beat them.”
Either way the game is set to be a cracker and while WP will be firm favourites, the Bulls will have enough hope at home to know they can back themselves.