Seabelo Senatla is a try-scoring machine who seemingly runs on an infinite supply of super-charged batteries, but have his various employers given any thought to the cross-code speedster running out of gas or worse, breaking down?
Workload and player burnout are issues that commonly arise in 15-man rugby, but are often glossed over when discussing Sevens, despite the likes of Blitzboks stars Senatla and Kwagga Smith pursuing full careers in both disciplines.
The fifth and fastest man in history to score 200 tries in the World Sevens Series, Senatla was limited by injury to 400 minutes in seven Super Rugby matches for the Stormers in 2017.
In the Currie Cup, the 24-year-old scored nine tries and clocked 963 minutes in 13 matches, finishing as the competition’s second-highest try-scorer and ranked eighth for time on the field.
2018 is a blockbuster year on the Sevens calendar, especially for South Africa, as Neil Powell’s troops will compete in Australia’s Commonwealth Games in mid-April and the Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament in the USA from July 20-22.
This is in addition to the Blitzboks defending their World Sevens Series title throughout the 10-leg circuit that runs until June 10 next year. South Africa won gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games but were knocked out in the quarter-finals of the 2013 World Cup.
Senatla, who has toured and trained with the Springboks and aims to wear the green-and-gold jersey, faces some tough choices and a helluva lot of rugby in the coming months.
“My focus remains phase two of my career, and 15s will take up the bulk of it,” said the prolific winger, who is set to report for pre-season training with the Stormers in January.
“There’s two (Sevens) majors next year and I naturally want to take part in both of them. I’ve got permission to go to the World Cup.
“Hopefully, the coaches (at both the Blitzboks and Stormers) come to an agreement and let me go for the Commonwealth (too).”
Senatla is young and fit, and his desire to play the game he loves 24/7 is impressive. He jokes about playing rugby in the off-season as a hobby. But a professional rugby career is a short one and a serious injury can cut it further, or end it prematurely.
So shouldn’t SA Rugby and WP Rugby be taking a more proactive role in Super Seb’s future, to save him from himself? Otherwise, they risk cooking the goose that lays the golden egg.