Seabelo Senatla ready to show his worth in fifteens rugby
Sevens star Seabelo Senatla used time after surgery to repair his body and mind for a full assault on the longer version of the game thanks to his first full fifteens preseason.
Senatla‚ who scored 224 tries for the Blitzboks on the HSBC World Sevens Series‚ has been straddling the two codes for over three years‚ which has resulted in a slower-than expected transition to fifteens.
Injuries have also hindered the flyer’s adaptation. Some of those setbacks were a result of a playing schedule that saw Senatla have no off-season for the better part of three years.
Groin surgery last July‚ though‚ ended any pressure to combine playing both codes and once he was back on his feet after two months‚ his focus has purely been on improving as a fifteens player.
“I haven’t had a pre-season for about four seasons‚ which made it difficult every time I came back to fifteens for two reasons‚” Senatla said.
“I was in the deep end in terms of gameplan and the systems‚ and I always had to try and catch up as I wasn’t part of the pre-season. Secondly I wasn’t always fully conditioned for fifteens.
“This time I’ve been able to condition my body and to be in the system‚ which allows me to understand the gameplan better.
“It was good to have a break and not only recover from the groin but also from other niggles and aches and pains I had.
“I’m able to do things in the gym and at training that I wasn’t able to do in the past because of various small niggles. I’ve been able to focus on the small muscles that are ignored at times.”
There will be stiff competition for places on the wing at the Stormers. Springboks Dillyn Leyds‚ JJ Engelbrecht and Sergeal Petersen are in the mix as is Springbok tourist Ruhan Nel.
Senatla‚ though‚ is only concerned about making sure his performances make it impossible to neglect him when he has a chance.
“I’m praying for a big year‚ but I’m also working for it‚” Senatla said. “I hope if I get the chance to play I can show what I can do.
“I always put the most pressure on myself to perform because I believe I have the skills. I’m not going to focus on more than making an impact at the Stormers. I’m not worrying about the Springboks.”
He has spent the last few months working on the weaknesses of his game while also packing on a few extra kilogrammes in the gym.
“It’s no secret that I needed to work on my kicking‚ and improve under the high ball and my positioning‚” Senatla said. “Those are pivotal fundamentals of playing in the back three.
“Although I’ve picked up a few kilos‚ I’ve never let size worry me. But I’m comfortable with the extra muscle because it happened organically.
“I initially picked up four kilos in the gym but lost a couple when I started running again. I still feel agile and fast most importantly. I don’t feel heavy at all.”