Speedster Seabelo Senatla wants another crack at a gold medal after the Springbok Sevens side qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, writes JOHN GOLIATH.
The Blitzboks are guaranteed a place in the top four of the World Rugby Sevens Series after finishing joint seventh in the London leg – the penultimate stop on the circuit last weekend.
Senatla won a bronze medal with the South African team at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, but decided to concentrate his efforts solely on the 15-man game in 2018.
However, the speedster, who has scored 224 tries on the World Series circuit, says he still harbours a desire to represent his country at the Olympics.
‘There has been a lot of chat, but nothing is finalised. The sevens guys are keen to use me, and the Stormers want to keep me here. I think, at this point, it’s still going to happen [a return to sevens rugby],’ Senatla said.
‘It really does help me [the sevens]. I want to play fifteens, but also play sevens because it does help to sharpen my skills. The Olympic Games are in my sights. I will have to play a couple of tournaments, though, because you can’t go to the Olympics without some sevens game time under the belt.’
Senatla has struggled with injury over the last few years, and says he didn’t get a lot of time to rest in between his Stormers and sevens commitments.
But he had some time off last year following groin surgery, which allowed him to rest and then have a proper pre-season with the Stormers. And now, after injuries to SP Marais and Sergeal Petersen, Senatla has enjoyed a run of games.
He played in the Stormers’ last two matches against the Crusaders and the Highlanders, and will probably start again this weekend when the Cape side take on the Lions at Ellis Park.
‘Coach [Robbie] Fleck told me quite early on that I will have to bide my time. So I got five minutes here, 10 minutes there,’ Senatla said.
‘I got frustrated, but I knew it was a process. I have to keep working hard and be ready when the opportunity comes. Unfortunately Sergeal got injured, which is not what I wanted. But that’s rugby. Now I’m literally just trying to play my game.’
Senatla is part of a bunch of talented in-form wingers in South Africa. It’s one of the positions where the national coach Rassie Erasmus has a lot of options to choose from.
‘The talent is booming right now, all the players are lifting their game. There is a lot of competition, and naturally once that happens, whoever is going to play for the Springboks, will be strong because of the competition,’ Senatla said.
‘When someone is challenging heavy, people are going to lift their games, because we all want to wear that Bok jersey right now.’
Senatla says he is focusing on the smaller stuff. pic.twitter.com/vRT98jXo4I
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) May 28, 2019