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Stormers' Nel steers clear of off-field drama

While the friction between the leadership threatens to overshadow the season, Nel is quietly focused on his possible Super Rugby debut and said he prefers to steer clear of any off-field issues.

FILE: Ruhan Nel in action for the Blitzboks against Spain. Picture: Twitter/@Blitzboks

CAPE TOWN - Stormers centre Ruhan Nel insists the ongoing drama behind the scenes at the union has not impacted their preparation ahead of the Super Rugby opener against the Bulls at Loftus.

"It's been a very enjoyable offseason, the boys have been gelling lekker. Everything has been going really well. There's a good vibe between the guys so hopefully, that can transcend on the field. I believe that's where the mindset is at this stage."

The position of defence coach Paul Treu is still undecided as the conflict between the elected officials (who want Treu to stay on) of Western Province Rugby (WPR) and it's business unit (who have planned a Treu exit strategy) escalates.

Last year, Treu brought up dissatisfaction with treatment by the Stormers coaching staff of Robbie Fleck, an independent committee found the staff, as well as WPR free, of any wrongdoing. The matter is now being used to fight a boardroom battle with no end in sight as yet, the Stormers are yet to officially announce their coaching structure for the season.

While the friction between the leadership threatens to overshadow the season, Nel is quietly focused on his possible Super Rugby debut and said he prefers to steer clear of any off-field issues.

"I find it's best not to get involved with this off-field stuff. For me personally, I'll just try and to be the best possible 13 I can be. At this stage whatever happens off the field, it's something that we will just need to adapt to."

Nel is confident a win over their traditional rivals will ensure a more harmonious Newlands.

"At the end of the day, it's the 23 guys that are going to turn up to Loftus and do the job."

"We did chat about it (off-field issues) in the last couple of weeks and the better we do on the field, I think the better for the whole union."

The Stormers lost eight consecutive away matches in 2018, their only joy came at Newlands. Unsurprisingly their dire away form meant an 11th place finish on the overall log and fourth in the five-team South African conference.

Only the Bulls were below them in the South African conference and despite the signings of Duane Vermeulen and Schalk Brits, the Bulls need a good start.

The Bulls looked to be a franchise in a mini-crisis or full-blown one, after finishing at number 12 in the Super Rugby, they lost coach John Mitchell and replaced him with Pote Human his eventual replacement.

Long-serving CEO Barend van Graan announced that he would be stepping down at the end of the year while just this week, High-Performance manager Xander Janse van Rensburg also stepped down.

(Edited by Mihlali Ntsabo)

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