Johannesburg – Springbok Sevens stars Cecil Afrika and Seabelo Senatla have extended their national contracts until December 2016, the SA Rugby Union (Saru) announced on Friday.
Senatla will play for the Springbok Sevens team during the Sevens World Series, while also representing Western Province for the next three years in the Currie Cup, thanks to a unique contract agreement.
He 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.
Rassie Erasmus, Saru's general manager for high performance, said he was pleased the players' services had 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,” Erasmus said in a statement on Friday.
He said the agreement with Senatla, in particular, was an innovative and ground-breaking deal.
“The agreement with Seabelo benefits all the relevant parties involved Äthe player, Saru and the Springbok Sevens team as well as WP Rugby,” Erasmus said.
“He has aspirations to play 15-a-side rugby for the Springboks one day and this will keep those hopes alive.”
Erasmus said the Springbok Sevens conditioning coach would work closely with his Province counterpart over the next three years to ensure Senatla was sensibly and correctly managed.
He said Afrika was one of the senior Springbok Sevens players and he would 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 said.
“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.”
Senatla has not featured for the Springbok Sevens so far this season in their three World Series tournaments at the Gold Coast in Australia, Dubai and Port Elizabeth.
However, he is expected to be available for the next tournament in Las Vegas in January.
Afrika has played in 28 World Series tournaments and has amassed more than 800 points since his debut in Wellington in 2009.
Senatla made his South Africa and World Series debut in Wellington earlier this year and has played in five World Series events overall. He also represented South Africa at the Rugby World Cup Sevens
South Africa are currently second on the World Series standings after winning the Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens in Port Elizabeth on Sunday. – Sapa