Will Seabelo Senatla Go Down As The Greatest Sevens Player Ever?
The speedy centre was named World Rugby’s men’s Sevens Player of the Year. And it’s not hard to see why.
On the pitch? He’s dominated, scoring 66 tries over 10 events in the 2015-16 series – the second-highest in the event’s double-digit history.
It’s the combination of blistering pace and sleight-of-foot that makes this guy stand out. Able to change direction and retain his momentum, he finds gaps in the defence with surgical precision, turning the tide whenever he gets his hands on the ball.
“This sport is tough,” says the rugby player. “The pace we play at is intense but I truly believe we’re one of the fittest groups of athletes out there.”
Senatla says in Sevens just being big isn’t enough – and he should know, he’s 186cm tall and 76kg of brute force muscle. The trick to converting every opportunity: “You’ve got to be explosive.”
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His training isn’t just about hitting the pitch. He attributes his success as much to ball time as he does to his sessions in the gym.
“I think because of my role on the field and my speed I tend to use power cleans and box jumps a lot,” he says.
Both moves dial up his ability go from zero to a 100 at the flick of a switch.
“It’s not about my 40 metre times anymore, it’s about how quickly I can take a gap,” he says.
The average Sevens player will cover over 1 500m in a single game – Senatla’s coaches reckon he’s smashing that number every time he hits the pitch. Partly it’s down to his approach. Senatla says he never lets the intensity slip. He’s throwing himself at his last sprint with the same drive as his first.
Remember, he’s just 23. And while the age at which rugby players peak varies, Senatla is still set to unleash his full potential.
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On Saturday, SA will have to do battle with tough opposition, squaring off against the likes of Australia, the USA and Russia. While the Aussies have been inconsistent through this season, but are always capable of causing an upset – and those Americans will be hitting the pitch looking to make rugby great again.
TRAIN LIKE HIM: Test your standing broad jump and highest box jump. Then focus on weighted squat jumps, switch lunges and Olympic lifts to improve your numbers.