Sevens

Senatla's call to sit out Sevens final

Seabelo Senatla (Gallo).
Seabelo Senatla (Gallo).

Cape Town - There is no doubt that the absence of Seabelo Senatla from the Blitzboks' starting line-up for their Cape Town Sevens final against England on Sunday was a huge blow. 

The 2015/16 World Sevens player of the year sat out the match with a bruised calf, and while management wanted him to play, Senatla confirmed afterwards that the decision to sit out was his own. 

The injury came earlier in the day with the quarter-final win over Wales and Senatla probably shouldn't have played in the 14-7 semi-final win over New Zealand either. 

"I was pretty stupid to go out like that for the semi-final. I was not even close to 70%," Senatla revealed after the 19-17 loss to England.

"I couldn't get my movement right and couldn't function properly. I risked it in the semi-final.

"I know how much value it adds to the rest of the guys just seeing me there ... it's one of those things. They get a little bit of confidence with me being round them, and I did it for that.

"I knew I was going to struggle and I was struggling the whole time."

Senatla was substituted before full-time against New Zealand in the semi-final in the hope of saving himself for the final, but it was not to be.

"After the warm-up I felt that I wasn't going to cut it.  I was honest with myself," Senatla said.

"I would feel like I let the guys down if I went in there 70% in a final when there was a guy fully fit on the sidelines, especially when we're so closely matched as players.

"Of course you want to play every game, but sometimes you have to look at the team as a whole and decide what is best for them ... that is our culture."

The loss to England brought back memories of Rio 2016 where the Blitzboks - also without an injured Senatla - lost to Great Britain in the semi-finals. 

But Senatla says watching this one from the sidelines did not hurt as much as losing out on a chance to play for Olympic Gold. 

"Rio was more difficult to watch," Senatla said.

"That one was really painful. At least now we were in the final and I think it's better to lose at home because you've got people supporting you."

Senatla has two more Sevens tournaments with the Blitzboks remaining this season in New Zealand (January 28-29) and Australia (February 4-5) before he joins the Stormers for Super Rugby. 

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