Local still lekker for Senatla

2015-01-25 15:00

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Seabelo Senatla, one of the most promising young South African rugby players in the country, seems likely to play a small part in this year’s Super Rugby tournament, but seems unlikely to make South Africa’s rugby World Cup squad.

Senatla, who played for Western Province in last year’s Currie Cup final and went on tour with the Springboks (without playing a match), is back with the Blitzbokke.

He has rapidly become a world star in Sevens and with the Blitzbokke currently holding an eight-point lead over Fiji in the World Sevens series after consecutive wins in Dubai and Port Elizabeth, his presence is considered vital.

The top four teams in the final World Series will automatically qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Coach Neil Powell believes he has the men to win a gold medal and it would appear Senatla’s presence has been mapped out in the Sevens.

The 12-man Blitzbokke squad will fly to New Zealand on Friday for the next leg of the World Series in Wellington on February 6 and 7.

This will be followed by the fourth round in Las Vegas, US, from February 13 to 15.

The rest of the programme includes Hong Kong in March and Japan in April with the tournament wrapping up in Scotland and England in May – by which time more than half of the Super Rugby competition will be complete.

Senatla, who turns 22 on February 10, is seen as a possible successor to Bryan Habana in the Springbok number 11 jersey.

He holds a unique professional arrangement as he is contracted to the Springbok Sevens side with a clause that allows him to play for WP Rugby when he is not committed to the Blitzbokke.

It will, therefore, be possible for him to turn out for the Stormers in the last three rounds of the pool stages of Super Rugby and also be available for selection for the truncated Rugby Championship.

But it is unlikely that national coach Heyneke Meyer will risk him at that level given his lack of experience in the XVs game.

With the Olympics looming in 2016, a year in which Powell is likely to be given first choice of players who might win gold, it is unlikely that South African fans will see what the nugget discovered in the Free State gold fields can do in XVs until 2017.

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