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Senatla sets pace in new Sevens series

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    29 Nov 2016     Getty Images

As the HSBC World Sevens kicks off again this weekend in Dubai, South Africa are looking to make up for their disappointment in only managing a bronze medal.

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South Africa are in Pool B which means they won't face the All Blacks Sevens until the play-offs round should they both qualify. South Africa are drawn with the United States, Scotland and Uganda while the All Blacks face England, Samoa and Russia.

While New Zealander DJ Forbes stands on the cusp of achieving the all-time tournament appearance record by playing in his 80th tournament there is plenty of interest across the tournament as a whole as teams kick on from the Olympic experience midway through the year.

South Africa are one team who have plenty to play for having won just one tournament in last season's series, at home, in Cape Town. They made the finals in Wellington, Vancouver and London but were beaten on each occasion.

One of the potential stars of the series is South Africa's Seabelo Senatla, who was named the Sevens player of the year by World Rugby at their recent awards.

He scored 66 tries in the last season and has scored 113 tries in two years of competition.
Nicknamed 'The Bullet Train', he doesn't regard himself as the fastest player on the circuit. America's Carlin Isles has that honour.

"There's Carlin, and then there's the rest of us. There's also Perry [Baker] who I think is a tad quicker than the rest of the pack but surely Carlin is first and maybe him second. And it's pecking orders from the back there," he told Worldrugby.org.

Senatla said he had always had speed, something his father encouraged when he was a child by taking him to a nearby field to run as often as he could.

"I was a runner from a very, very young age. Soccer actually came before rugby, rugby just came now. I've played it socially my whole life but I really got into love and have so much passion for the sport only after school," he said.

Enjoying the Olympic experience in August, Senatla said there is still plenty of growth ahead for the game.

"When I think of playing when I started and where it is now, it is growing incredibly, and now, it being an Olympic sport, we know that other countries can bring so much money into it to keep it alive.

"It is going to get tougher and you are going to see it bring so much, and eventually the equivalent to the 15s I think," he said.

Dubai Men's Sevens Schedule (NZT)

Friday 2 December
8:36pm Friday 2 December v Russia
12:20am Saturday 3 December v Samoa
5:37am Saturday 3 December v England

Saturday 3 December
Finals TBC