Speedster Senatla takes the gap
Bok Sevens flyer Seabelo Senatla was only meant to start his career at Newlands in the Currie Cup, but he has jumped the gun slightly.
Bok Sevens flyer Seabelo Senatla was only meant to start his career at Newlands in the Currie Cup, but has jumped the gun and is set to make his Stormers debut on Saturday.
The speedster from Welkom is contracted to the national Sevens side until 2016 with a view to representing South Africa at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, and came to an agreement with Western Province that he would be available to them for the Currie Cup this year.
However, having trained with the Stormers since the IRB Sevens World Series ended in the middle of May the former Junior Bok has impressed enough to force his way onto the Stormers bench this weekend.
He is excited about the opportunity to show what he can do in the 15-man code, having worked hard in the last few weeks to earn his chance.
"I only signed for the Currie Cup, but after our last game with the Sevens they [Stormers] called me up to come and train with them.
"I have been training very well with the Stormers and everyone has welcomed me. I have been running the plays and doing whatever I can to be able to be in this position, and now I am getting a chance and I am so excited to be playing this weekend," he said.
Stormers coach Allister Coetzee admitted that he did not expect to play Senatla before the Currie Cup, but explained that he has worked hard in training and deserves his place on the bench.
"Seabelo has shown at national Sevens that he is a very exciting young player. I think his greatest attribute is definitely his pace, the man is really quick.
"We had a twin deal with SA Rugby last year when we signed Seabelo and I thought the Currie Cup would be his opportunity to showcase his skillset but the opportunity is earlier than what we thought and we are all excited to see Seabelo play, he has worked really hard," he said.
Senatla is under no illusions that he will have to make some key adjustments to his game in the cauldron of the big North-South derby against the Bulls this weekend.
"It is a different type of ball-game, but it is still a rugby ball, so I am very excited to be here and playing in the highest form of 15-man rugby at club level, if I may say so.
"You have got less space, you have got less time and the collisions as well - you need to be stronger and stand firm. There are more collisions than Sevens but I will be looking to mix it up and play my normal game," he explained.
Whilst he will be available for the entire Currie Cup, Senatla's focus remains on his Sevens career with the opportunity to attend the Olympics after which he plans to turn his attention to the 15-man code full time.
"I am still involved with Sevens until 2016 and hopefully after the Olympics I will make a full turn to 15-man and try and pursue a career there.
"Basically the ultimate dream is to be a 15s Bok, so we will see how things go after the Olympics," he said.
He added that watching his former teammate Cornal Hendricks go on to represent the Boks after just one season of Super Rugby has provided plenty of inspiration that he can go on to do the same one day.
"Having played with Cornal [Hendricks] in the Sevens it is inspiring to see him do so well in the 15-man side. It gives us hope and we can see that if someone did it then you also can do it," he said.
With fellow Sevens stars Cheslin Kolbe and Gio Aplon starting on the wings for the Stormers this weekend Senatla is looking forward to linking up with players that have the same attacking mindset as him.
"It is awesome playing with players of that calibre, I have played with Cheslin [Kolbe] in the Sevens and he is a very good player. Gio Aplon is also a very mobile man, I like playing with guys that are more mobile and have a certain type of mindset - they come from the Sevens and have a certain skillset so I think we understand each other," Senatla explained.
By Michael de Vries