Heinz Schenk
2 minute read
15 Jan 2019
11:01 am

Ivan embraces one of SA’s biggest rugby duels of 2019

Heinz Schenk

Who'll be the first choice scrumhalf at the Bulls in Super Rugby this season?

Ivan van Zyl of South Africa during the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour match between Wales and South Africa at Principality Stadium on November 24, 2018 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

In this World Cup year, South African rugby won’t be short of thorny issues.

The debate on which position Damian Willemse should play is already an old one.

Now, Loftus will be a scene for another conundrum: who’ll reign supreme between Embrose Papier and Ivan van Zyl?

Both these talented Bulls scrumhalves made their Test debuts in 2018, with Papier in particular impressing in the latter stages of the Springboks’ year-end tour to Europe.

Yet national coach Rassie Erasmus still regards Van Zyl highly, who was previously praised by former Bulls coach John Mitchell for having an excellent defensive game.

It’s likely then that the duo won’t lack confidence in trying to compete against each other.

“I’ll definitely embrace this challenge,” said Van Zyl.

“Like I’ve said previously, it’s always a good thing when you have healthy competition. Embrose is a great player.”

Illustrating the newfound maturity the two men have found in the past 12 months, Van Zyl also believes the two should maintain perspective on the matter.

“We learn from each other and also help out each other wherever we can. In the end, I suppose who plays is going to depend on what the coach wants, but we’ll just keep on doing what we can to their best of our abilities. We just want a situation that’s the most beneficial to the team.”

Arguably making the duel even more mouthwatering is the fact that both Van Zyl and Papier have a substantial amount of new insights from international level that they’d want to apply in this year’s Super Rugby campaign.

“You learn so much. There are so many experienced players and coach that you work with. It gives one a lot of confidence, just knowing you’re part of the mix,” said Van Zyl.

“We’re going to work even harder now. You know you made the national group in 2018, now you want to make sure you do so again.”

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