Springbok Sevens stars Seabelo Senatla and Cecil Afrika have extended their national sevens contracts until December 2016, the South African Rugby Union (SARU) announced on Friday.
Senatla will play for the Springbok Sevens team during the HSBC Sevens World Series, whilst also representing DHL Western Province for the next three years in the Absa Currie Cup, thanks to a unique contract agreement. Senatla starred for South Africa at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Russia, just a week after he helped the Junior Springboks to third place at the Junior World Championships in France.
Afrika is a former International Rugby Board (IRB) and SA Sevens Player of the Year and this year performed duties as a Keep Rugby Clean Ambassador for the IRB.
Rassie Erasmus, SARU’s General Manager for High Performance, said he was very pleased that the services of the players have been secured until 2016.
“They are both world class Sevens players and I am very pleased that we have signed them until the end of 2016, when we will hopefully make a strong challenge at the Olympic Games in Rio,” said Erasmus.
He added that the agreement with Senatla, in particular, was an innovative and ground-breaking deal.
“The agreement with Seabelo benefits all the relevant parties involved – the player, SARU and the Springbok Sevens team as well as WP Rugby,” said Erasmus. “He has aspirations to play for 15-a-side rugby for the Springboks one day and this will keep those hopes alive.”
Erasmus said that the Springbok Sevens conditioning coach would work closely with his DHL WP counterpart over the next three years to ensure that Senatla was managed sensibly and correctly.
Afrika, Erasmus explained, is one of the senior Springbok Sevens players and he will have the added responsibility of mentoring the young players in the squad.
“Cecil is a world class player and his game breaking attributes are well-documented. He is now a senior figure in the squad and we will look to him, amongst others, to act as mentor for the younger members in the squad. He has a lot of experience and still has a lot to offer, so I am therefore very pleased that we have secured his playing services for the next three years,” said Erasmus.
Senatla has not featured for the Springbok Sevens in their three World Series tournaments so far this season, which were held at the Gold Coast in Australia, Dubai and Port Elizabeth. He is however expected to be available for the next tournament, in Las Vegas in January.
Afrika has played in 28 World Series tournaments and amassed more than 800 points since his debut in Wellington in 2009. Speedster Senatla made his South Africa and World Series debut in Wellington earlier this year and have played in five World Series events overall, whilst also representing South Africa at the RWC Sevens and JWC.
South Africa are currently second on World Series standings after winning the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens on Sunday in Port Elizabeth.