He’s become one of South Africa’s most lethal weapons on the World Rugby Sevens Series, but things haven’t panned out so smoothly for Seabelo Senatla in the XVs version of rugby.
With a whopping 224 tries in 203 matches for the Blitzboks on the world sevens circuit, the 26-year-old flyer sits in fourth place on the series’ all-time try-scorer list, trailing only England’s Dan Norton (338 tries), Kenya’s Collins Injera (271) and Argentina’s Santiago Gomez Cora (230).
Senatla’s nose for the tryline in the abbreviated format of the game has yielded plenty of international success.
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He played a key role in South Africa’s back-to-back World Sevens series titles in 2017 and 2018, claimed a gold medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and won bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
However, despite being apart of the Western Province and Stormers set-ups since 2014, Senatla hasn’t been able to replicate that success in the game’s traditional XVs format.
Injuries and sevens commitments restricted him from pushing for higher honours beyond Super Rugby and the Currie Cup, although he did win a solitary appearance for a South Africa A side against the touring French Barbarians in 2017.
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Nevertheless, that hasn’t quelled his desire to represent the Springboks at test level and put his 2020 Tokyo Olympics ambitions on hold, according to new Stormers coach John Dobson.
“Seabelo is absolutely convinced that he can become a Springbok,” he said at a media briefing in Bellville on Monday.
That is his focus. He is actually discounting quite a bit in terms of wages to be able to do that. I hope he makes it. He is really keen.”
It’s a big ask for Senatla to crack into the Springboks set-up, especially considering the impact incumbent wingers Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe had on the South African side en route to their World Cup title tilt in Japan earlier this month.
Senatla will join Stormers teammate Ruhan Nel in the Blitzboks’ opening two tournaments of the 2019-20 World Rugby Sevens Series in Dubai and Cape Town next month before fully committing himself to the upcoming Super Rugby campaign.
Dobson said Nel could leave the squad later in the season if he is selected for the Olympics in August.
“We’ve got Angelo Davids, Ruhan and Seabelo. Angelo is staying with the Sevens for the whole season, while Seabelo and Ruhan will join us at our pre-season camp after the Cape Town Sevens,” Dobson said.
“Seabelo will be with us full-time. If he gets selected, Ruhan will go to the Olympics and miss the Super Rugby playoffs.”
The Stormers open their 2020 Super Rugby season against the Hurricanes at Newlands in Cape Town on February 1.
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