Super Rugby

Hong Kong Sevens wizard Seabelo Senatla to cast a spell over Sunwolves in city’s first Super Rugby clash

The scintillating winger has wowed crowds in So Kon Po for years and is hoping for a similar feel in Saturday’s match at Mong Kok Stadium

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 May, 2018, 4:03pm
UPDATED : Friday, 18 May, 2018, 10:53pm

He’s spent years tearing up the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens with the Blitzboks and now scintillating winger Seabelo Senatla is out to give the city’s first Super Rugby game a carnival feel.

Long one of the key components of South Africa’s sevens side, the 25-year-old is in the midst of a transition to 15s and is thrilled to be back in Hong Kong.

“I hope it feels just like the Sevens when we come out against the Sunwolves. It’s an advantage to me playing here, it’s pretty cool,” Senatla said, adding that he has been showing his teammates around Tsim Sha Tsui.

“We are staying in the same hotel [as the Sevens], the boys are getting to see a lot of the places that I’ve been and they enjoy the shopping. The guys are bargaining for gadgets and getting a lot of discount.”

Senatla is making his first start for the Stormers since round three after missing a large chunk of the season through injury and is itching to again wow the Hong Kong crowd.

“It’s a pleasant feeling to finally get a chance to start again after having a lot of injuries. I’m blessed to have the coaches show their belief and trust in me,” he said.

“Hong Kong is a good place to be, it will be difficult to adapt to the humidity and the wet ball, but you can still throw the ball around.

“The hot conditions are wonderful for rugby, it’s what you want. You don’t want it raining because it makes it difficult to play rugby.”

Stormers coach Robbie Fleck said Senatla will rejoin the Blitzboks ahead of the last two rounds of the HSBC World Sevens Series next month, with South Africa four points behind top-placed Fiji.

But beyond that, Fleck will be doing all he can to help Senatla achieve his dream of playing for the Springboks.

“Seabelo wants to try and make it at 15s and we have got to give him that opportunity. He’s still got a lot to learn but he’s a fantastic player,” Fleck said.

“I think the good thing about him is he is passionate and keen to make it in 15s, which is quite exciting for us.

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“We all know what an unbelievable sevens player he is and he certainly can add a lot of value to us.

“There is so much potential there in terms of what he can add, I’m super excited about what he can do.

“He is quite familiar with Hong Kong and the surroundings so we are looking to exploit that. He’s comfortable playing here.”

The Stormers face a side coming off a 63-28 win over the Queensland Reds, but Sunwolves coach Jamie Joseph was quick to quash any suggestion his team were favourites.

“We are definitely the underdogs, one win doesn’t make us favourites against a team, I don’t know how many games they have won but a lot more than us,” Joseph said.

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“But we have got some new confidence, I think our rugby had been improving up until last week – every week we were getting better but so were the opposition.

“This gives us a great opportunity to win away from home because it’s never been done.”