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Craig Lewis

Senatla ‘gunning’ for Bok goal


Seabelo Senatla at the Dubai Sevens Seabelo Senatla at the Dubai Sevens

Seabelo Senatla says his sevens involvement remains a key part of a multi-phase plan aimed at achieving his ultimate goal of becoming a Springbok, writes CRAIG LEWIS.

Senatla is widely regarded as one of the most devastating players on the sevens circuit, while he was named the World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year for the 2015-16 season, when he scored 66 tries in 10 events.

Understandably then, the 24-year-old’s presence was sorely missed by the Blitzboks when he featured in only the first four tournaments of the 2016-17 series before joining up with the Stormers.

It formed part of the ‘second phase’ of Senatla’s career, which is aimed at playing more fifteens rugby in order to begin equipping himself with the necessary attributes to hopefully earn a place in the Springbok setup.

Talking to SARugbymag.co.za at the Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday, Senatla said he was simply determined to continue working towards becoming an even better all-round player.

‘This is still my second phase, which is about playing more fifteens and supplementing it with sevens. I feel it [sevens] has a lot to do with my development as a player and it’s given me so much, so I don’t want to leave it just yet.

'Obviously I have dreams and ambitions of being a fifteens Bok, and that’s the ultimate goal. At later stages I will continue to play fifteens, and perhaps play that only. But it’s been an amazing journey so far, and I’m just enjoying every moment of it.

‘It’s all about trying to become a more holistic player, and that’s what I’m gunning towards. I’m just glad to be back with my sevens family, though,’ he added.

It did appear to take some time for Senatla to become comfortable in the fifteens game this year, but his impact for a victorious Western Province side in the Currie Cup final certainly pointed towards an increasing confidence.

‘I think coming back from fifteens to sevens is quite a bit more difficult than going the other way,’ he commented. ‘But I must say it’s been great coming back to the sevens setup, and for me, this is my home, because it’s where I started.

‘It’s a big portion of who I am as a player, and I don’t think I’ll ever lose that touch, but it’s always about sharpening up various aspects of my game.’

Senatla and Kwagga Smith will once again return to their respective Super Rugby franchises following the first four tournaments of this season, and while they will be missed by the Blitzboks, coach Neil Powell said it was an important part of the players’ development.

‘I think there were a few eyebrows that were lifted when we released the players to go play fifteens last season, but I think they are definitely better for it. One of the areas that has improved is their physicality, and there are always things that can be learned from different systems, which will make them better all-round players. It was a good exercise for us, but we’re really happy to have them back.’

WATCH: Blitzboks press conference

Photo: Francois Nel/Getty Images

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