Gavin Rich, SuperSport
Cape Town - The speedy addition to the Stormers team for Saturday’s Super Rugby derby match against the Bulls won’t be fully committed to the 15-man game until the year after next.
The supersport.com website reports that Springbok Sevens star Seabelo Senatla will be eagerly watched when he makes his senior conventional code debut at Newlands, and he says he has been inspired by the way that Cornal Hendricks has progressed since making the switch back to the 15-man game.
However, the 21 year old who initially hails from Welkom still has the 2016 Olympic Games firmly in his sights and will remain contracted to both the Blitzbokke as well as Western Province until then.
"Having played Sevens rugby with Cornal, it has been inspiring to see him graduate to the Springbok senior team," said Senatla after his selection into the Stormers squad.
"It gives me hope, as obviously that is the ultimate goal, to play for the Springboks.
"It gives us hope in the sense that when you see someone else do it, you know you can do it too.
"Cornal is an inspiration.
"But I still also have Sevens aspirations, and my aim there is the Olympics in 2016.
"Only after that will I focus only on my next goal, which is to follow in Cornal’s footsteps."
We may not see it on Saturday as all the forecasts are predicting a wet weather game, but Senatla has plenty of pace to burn, and adds considerably to the Stormers’ attacking arsenal at the back.
"Obviously the big difference between the Sevens and 15-man game is the space.
"There is a lot more space in Sevens, and that is something I am going to have to get used to.
"But I am very excited to be playing in the highest format."
Senatla played in the same SA Under-20 side as Cheslin Kolbe at the IRB Junior World Championship in France last year, so he is no stranger to at least one of the current Stormers starting back three.
"I have also enjoyed training with Gio Aplon.
"The guys are very mobile, and I love playing with players who are mobile and have a certain way of playing.
"They also come from Sevens and have a certain skill-set.
"The current Stormers playing style (with the switch to a more attacking emphasis) suits me.
"Juan de Jongh is also one of those players, because we understand each other."
Indeed, and it seems they understand each other off the field too, for while this will be Senatla’s first appearance for the Stormers, it seems he already feels part of the Stormers family.
"When I got a chance during the Sevens series to watch the Stormers play I did, and I really got behind and supported them because I have many friends in the team and wanted to see them do well."
Saturday represents his chance to become a full part of that family, and as this is a match against the Bulls we are talking about, his selection speaks volumes for the confidence that coach Allister Coetzee and Stormers director of rugby Gert Smal must have in him.
"Even if Kobus van Wyk had been fit to play we were looking to include Seabelo this week as he has really impressed us in the training sessions he has been part of during the June break from Super Rugby," said Coetzee.
With the Stormers boasting so much pace and flair in the back three, albeit that the wings are suddenly looking a bit small again, it will be hoped that the predictions of a downpour on Saturday are not accurate as it will rob the game of potential spectacle.
However, wet weather games tend to be closely fought with the emphasis on patience for the one opportunity that may come, and if Senatla is on the field late in the game the Stormers will be confident they have a player who can with it for them.
15. Jaco Taute, 14. Gio Aplon, 13. Sailosi Tagicakibau, 12. Juan de Jongh, 11. Cheslin Kolbe, 10. Kurt Coleman, 9. Nic Groom, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Schalk Burger (captain), 6. Nizaam Carr, 5. Ruan Botha, 4. Michael Rhodes, 3. Pat Cilliers, 2. Deon Fourie, 1. Alistair Vermaak
Substitutes:16. Tiaan Liebenberg, 17. Sti Sithole, 18. Martin Dreyer, 19. Manuel Carizza, 20. Siya Kolisi, 21. Louis Schreuder, 22. Peter Grant, 23. Seabelo Senatla
15. Jurgen Visser, 14. Akona Ndungane, 13. JJ Engelbrecht, 12. Jan Serfontein, 11. Bjorn Basson, 10. Handré Pollard, 9. Francois Hougaard, 8. Grant Hattingh, 7. Jacques Engelbrecht, 6. Jono Ross, 5. Victor Matfield (captain), 4. Paul Willemse, 3. Werner Kruger, 2. Callie Visagie, 1. Dean Greyling
Substitutes: 16. Bongi Mbonambi, 17. Marcel van der Merwe, 18. Morné Mellett, 19. Marvin Orie, 20. Roelof Smit, 21. Piet van Zyl, 22. Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 23. William Small-Smith