Senatla and Kwagga confident of good Blitzboks send off

23 January 2018 - 17:48 By Craig Ray
Seabelo Senatla receiving a cap for 35 tournaments from Neil Powell during the Springbok Sevens Year End Function and Capping Ceremony at Southern Sun Hotel Cape Sun on December 13, 2017 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Seabelo Senatla receiving a cap for 35 tournaments from Neil Powell during the Springbok Sevens Year End Function and Capping Ceremony at Southern Sun Hotel Cape Sun on December 13, 2017 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Image: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images

The Blitzboks go into the defence of their Sydney World Series title in confident mood despite sitting second on the 2017/18 standings.

After winning the season-opening tournament in Dubai last December‚ South Africa lost to New Zealand in the semi-finals of the Cape Town event a week later.

The Sevens All Blacks went on to win in the Mother City and hold a slender two point lead over the Blitzboks on the standings.

It’s still early in the season‚ but the next two events‚ which includes Hamilton in NZ following Sydney‚ is the last time the Blitzboks will have Seabelo Senatla and Kwagga Smith in the lineup.

The duo are heading back to Super Rugby for the rest of the season‚ so it is imperative that SA make the most of their a near full strength squad.

Senatla reached 200 career tries in Cape Town and has amassed an incredible 203 tries in 35 tournaments.

Smith is a hard working forward with a sprinkle of magic‚ whose ability as a link player will be missed later in the campaign.

Senatla hopes his decision to focus on fifteens following the next two tournaments will work out better than it did last year.

“It was not the fairy tale I hoped it to be‚” admitted Senatla. “I got injured in my first game for the Stormers and then was injured in my first game back again.

"In the end though‚ I finished on a high note‚ winning the Currie Cup (with Western Province). When I returned to sevens‚ it was easy to slot back in.

“The team environment has been great as always and I have been given wonderful opportunities. It demands the best of your abilities and that is a great foundation taking that into fifteens.

“I am still young in rugby terms and have a lot to learn in all aspects of the game‚ so in that regard it was good to play sevens again.”

Smith says that despite a two-week break over the Christmas holidays‚ which included the small matter of getting married‚ the team is well set for Sydney.

“We need to get over the jet lag firstly‚” Smith said.

“We must start again even though we’ve had success here in the past. The home team will be good and all the teams have been improving so we will have to be at our best to win it again.

“The vibe in our team is really good especially as we all had a two-week break over Christmas so everyone is refreshed‚ which gave us the chance to rest our mind and bodies.

“We slipped up a little in Cape Town but we are still really confident‚ especially because of all the hard work we have put in.

“On a personal level‚ last year was great‚ even if it meant being away from home a lot.

“I was married last December and on honeymoon I went a little off my eating programme but I was still in good shape when I got back to training in January so I’m confident.”

The Blitzboks play Papua New Guinea in their opening match on Friday. Although they have met five times before‚ the last clash was way back in 2003‚ when the Blitzboks won 49-0.

The PNG team scored a famous victory against South Africa though‚ by 21-10 in Tokyo in 2000.


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