Rassie Erasmus says scrumhalf Embrose Papier is ready to make his first start for the Springboks.
After five substitute appearances, not all of them at scrumhalf, the 21-year-old will finally make his long-awaited starting debut against Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday.
Papier has had to be patient and bide his time behind first-choice No 9 Faf de Klerk and Bulls teammate Ivan van Zyl.
Speaking to the media in Edinburgh on Thursday, Erasmus said he had confidence in Papier’s ability to start a Test.
‘I think he is ready for it,’ Erasmus said. ‘Hopefully, it is dry because that will suit his game really well.
‘The pace Scotland plays at will also suit him. Scotland are going to try and make it tough for us so we have the challenge to give him a nice base on his first start.’
While many have been frustrated that the former Junior Springbok has not received a starting chance earlier in the season, Erasmus explained that the idea was not to have too many inexperienced players in a starting lineup.
‘As I said, there are a lot of new caps. This is his first Test start. A few weeks back it was Ivan’s second start. I think we are blooding the guys nicely but we are trying not to group three or four first-cappers together.
‘We don’t want to have Damian Willemse and Embrose all having first caps in big games. I think we have been spreading it out well with Ivan and guys like S’bu [Nkosi] and Lukhanyo Am, getting them into the team in bits and pieces and not throwing four or five new caps into one Test match.’
Erasmus said he was wary of what Scotland, and in particular star flyhalf Finn Russell, could bring to the Test.
‘He pulls all the strings. I have coached against him a few times while I was at Munster. When he is on song he is hard to contain. He sees space and contains the speed of the game well. He and [coach] Gregor [Townsend] have a great relationship so hopefully we find a way to contain him
‘We are not sure who is going to win this game on Saturday and that is well done by Scotland. For a country with the number of players they have, it is wonderful what they are doing. It is wonderful to come here with them performing the way they do.’
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