Senatla’s XVs return delayed to 2017

2016-08-16 11:50
Seabelo Senatla (Gallo Images)

Cape Town – Expect to see Seabelo Senatla, ace poacher for the Blitzboks, make his keenly-awaited return to the more extended form of rugby only at the beginning of next season.

Confirmation is expected later today that the Sevens strike factor – badly missed in the narrow semi-final defeat to Great Britain at the Olympic event in Rio where South Africa were curtailed to bronze medal – will be sidelined for around three months.

Back here this week from Brazil, Senatla was due for a medical on Tuesday to confirm the full extent of the fracture-related injury to his wrist, frustratingly suffered right at the end of the Blitzboks’ quarter-final triumph over Australia, but reliable sources have indicated to Sport24 that the initial forecast of an eight-week layoff or thereabouts is likelier to be three months.

That would mean the 23-year-old speedster plays no part at all in Western Province’s Currie Cup campaign, even if they reach the October 15 final – only two months up the road.

It would also mean Senatla is very unlikely, considering a lack of match sharpness or any first-class opportunity to reacclimatise to the XVs game, to come into contention as an appealing “wildcard” for the Springbok end-of-year tour of the northern hemisphere in November.

If that is the case, his fresh switch of landscapes will only begin when the Stormers undertake their preparations for the 2017 Super Rugby campaign.

He has already proved his mettle at XVs level, excelling at times for Province in his maiden season with them in 2014 when they won the Currie Cup, even though Sevens remained a strong focus for him at the time.

With the Olympics out of the way, every effort should and probably will be made to get Senatla, a prodigious attacking talent and no shrinking violet on defence either, back in the groove on the more “crowded” rugby field.

Welkom-born Senatla would have been a welcome addition to head coach John Dobson’s Currie Cup plans had he not suffered the wrist setback in Rio, considering that all season long both the Stormers and WP have been more under-staffed than they would like in back-three candidates.

First their intended star Springbok signing Cornal Hendricks was able to play no part in Super Rugby 2016 – the Stormers were conference-toppers and beaten quarter-finalists – because of a serious heart condition that has left his entire rugby career looking tenuous.

Then during the competition, versatile Dillyn Leyds tore knee ligaments on the training ground at the end of March and was ruled out for nine months.

But WP do hope to filter back that bamboozling runner from fullback, Cheslin Kolbe, into their plans from his own Olympics duty as quickly as possible – there is reportedly even a chance he will play a role in Friday’s Newlands clash with the in-form Free State Cheetahs.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    blitzboks  |  seabelo senatla  |  rugby


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