The Springboks have hit the final week of the rugby year in a much better space than they were at the end of the past two and their coach Rassie Erasmus will feel that most of the jigsaw pieces are now in place ahead of the World Cup year.
It was just one game so maybe we shouldn’t get too excited, but Embrose Papier provided perhaps the most important missing jigsaw piece for Erasmus. If his excellent first appearance in the N09 jersey is the start of something, he could also the coach’s crowing achievement from this first year.
Scrumhalf has been a problem area for South Africa ever since the retirement of Fourie du Preez. Erasmus’ predecessor Allister Coetzee opted for Faf de Klerk in his first series against Ireland, but didn’t stick with him because he lacked a kicking game. That’s the problem with South African rugby. There either isn’t the time, or the willingness, to coach players to provide what you need. Or at least there wasn’t before Erasmus.
De Klerk left South Africa and coaching overseas, where a good kicking game is for a scrumhalf is even more of an imperative than it is here, corrected his weaknesses. De Klerk is still occasionally erratic, and being available and then not available with the frequency of a flashing lighthouse probably doesn’t help his cause. But he is the undisputed No 1 in his position now. Papier showed in Edinburgh that we can now be a lot more confident that there is back-up.
( Read More ) [via @SuperSportTV]