Currie Cup

WP's Nel wants to end 'rollercoaster' year on a high

2018-10-23 09:22
Ruhan Nel (Gallo)
Ruhan Nel (Gallo)

Cape Town - It has been a breakthrough season for Ruhan Nel

A superstar on the Sevens circuit and a Blitzboks stalwart, the 27-year-old is one of the latest to have made a full-time switch to 15-man rugby. 

So far, it has worked. 

Nel has been one of the form outside centres in the Currie Cup this season with his pace, strength and skill all combining to make him one of Western Province’s key attacking threats. 

Defensively, he is as solid as they come, and it has all pointed towards something resembling the complete package. 

It didn't take long for Nel to catch the eye of Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus, either.

Called up to the Bok squad for the home Rugby Championship fixtures against Australia and New Zealand last month and, Nel didn't get on the park, but the experience was something he took a lot from. 

These are early days yet, but the signs are encouraging.

Western Province coach John Dobson has said more than once this season that he has "no doubt" that Nel will become a Bok, and he will be one of many listening closely when Erasmus names his squad for the end-of-year tour after Saturday's Currie Cup final. 

Before any of that, though, Nel needs to help his side get the job done against the Sharks at Newlands on Saturday. 

He knows what it takes having started last year's final at Kings Park in the No 13 jersey. 2018, however, has been on a different level entirely. 

"It’s been a rollercoaster year for me, going straight after a World Series into a Currie Cup and then joining the Boks for two weeks," Nel told media from the WP training base in Bellville on Monday.

"I wanted to use the Currie Cup to get back into the swing of things full time so getting the call up (to the Boks) was a surprise and something I’m very thankful for.

"I guess for me now whatever happens, happens. It’s just about transforming to the 15s mindset and working on my craft.

"I’m still struggling with one or two habits that you bring across from Sevens, but I just wanted to use this time to get fully into the position that I wanted to play. I’m looking forward to next year’s Super Rugby and I’ll try and be in the best shape that I can possibly be in."

Nel is already shaping up to be one of the Stormers' biggest weapons in Super Rugby next year, with another one of his major strengths being the ability to remain calm in high-pressure situations. 

In the semi-final against Blue Bulls at Newlands on Saturday, for example, Nel led the team in breathing exercises just before the start of extra time to help get some air back into the lungs. 

With numerous World Series finals under his belt with the Blitzboks, he knows a thing or two about high-pressure, finals rugby. 

"Sevens is such a high-risk game and one mistake can cost you seven points," he said.

"You’re exposed to that situation quite a lot so that definitely helps me on the field.

"I just revert back to trying to remain calm in all situations, even when the pressure is up like it was on Saturday. You can either crack under that pressure or try and remain calm and focus on the task at hand."

Kick-off on Saturday is at 16:00.

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