Blitzboks sweat over Senatla's fitness for crunch Olympic semifinal clash

11 August 2016 - 19:03 By Craig Ray

South Africa’s Sevens team are hoping that key try-scorer Seabelo Senatla will be fully fit for the Olympic Games semi-finals on Thursday after sustaining a wrist injury earlier in the tournament. Senatla scored twice in the 22-5 win over Australia as the Blitzboks advanced to the last four.It also took his tournament tally to three tries.But Senatla was seen holding his wrist after the final hooter and looked in some discomfort. There was no official word from the camp about his condition‚ and no communiqué that a reserve had been called up. Senatla confirmed afterwards that he had “aggravated” an existing injury but was confident he would be cleared for the semifinals. If Senatla were to be ruled out‚ it would be a huge blow as he has been the team’s main source of tries in the past three seasons. He has scored 157 tries in 144 World Sevens Series appearances. The Blitzboks face Great Britain following Fiji’s tussle with surprise semi-finalists Japan in the first of the evening’s last four clashes. The Japanese beat New Zealand on day one in Pool play and then ousted France in the quarterfinals to take a step closer to an unlikely medal. Japan’s Tongan-born Lomano Lemeki was quick to heap pressure on Fiji for the clash. “The way we’re playing at the moment‚ we’re still in with a big chance‚” Lemeki said.“We’re a smaller team than them‚ but we just need to keep on working hard. “Regardless‚ there’s no pressure on us. The pressure is all on the big teams – they’re the ones that are supposed to be bringing home the medals‚ not us.” Blitzbok coach Neil Powell warned that his side‚ which has only conceded 17 points and three tries at the event‚ will need to continue its solid defensive work to overcome the British. “I am happy in the way we came back and played because in a knock-out match‚ anything is possible and Australia is a quality outfit‚” Powell said. “We played well. Our forwards got a few crucial turnovers and we have the backs that can exploit that. “We need a solid defensive line and a solid defensive effort on Thursday. We had a few missed tackles against Australia and that is always a concern‚ especially as we pride ourselves on our defence. “Hopefully we can improve on that against Great Britain. “Great Britain is one of the form teams in the competition and we need to go back and plan for another war.” Meanwhile All Black coach Steve Hansen has weighed into the debate over New Zealand’s Olympic quarterfinal exit. The Kiwis lost three of their four matches at the Olympics and were never a serious threat in the tournament. "Everyone will come back and we'll review the process and learn some lessons as we always do‚” Hansen told “It took us [the All Blacks] a while to win a World Cup. We've got to make sure we don't paper over things and we've got to look at it honestly and genuinely as a rugby playing group; the sevens‚ the All Blacks and the rugby union itself and see how we can do it better because it is an opportunity to showcase rugby for New Zealand. "We'd all like to have all our great players at the Olympics to win the gold medal but that's not guaranteed either. We still want to win test matches and that's not guaranteed."

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