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Nel, who trained with the Highlanders last year but never turned out for the side, was named last night in the Chiefs squad for 2020.
Nel (26) joins a Chiefs side with plenty of star power -
and the returning Aaron Cruden.
Otago prop George Bower has stayed with the Crusaders.
That side will be captained by lock Scott Barrett with Sam Whitelock in Japan.
The biggest switch has Beauden Barrett off to the Blues from the Hurricanes, although he is not playing until mid season.
The Blues have also signalled Rieko Ioane is eyeing a move to the midfield.
More than 40 players have signed Super Rugby contracts for the first time as other players move on after the World Cup.
There are still 25 players in the squads from the All Blacks team which played at the World Cup.