Stormers coach John Dobson has squashed "unfounded rumours" linking Springbok hooker Bongi Mbonambi to the Bulls, saying he is fully committed to the Cape franchise.
Reports over the weekend suggested that Mbonambi, who is contracted to the Stormers until the end of October 2021, has a clause in his contract that could allow him to leave at the end of Super Rugby, which is currently suspended and looking unlikely to be completed this year.
In a video press conference on Monday, though, Dobson re-emphasised what he had told Sport24 over the weekend, stating emphatically that there was no such clause in Mbonambi's contract.
"On the Bongi Mbonambi story, I can once again state categorically that he has no 'get out' clause after Super Rugby in 2020 as reported," Dobson said.
"He is contracted until 31 October 2021, but he could activate an escape clause after Super Rugby or the British & Irish Lions tour next year.
"I think it's best I quote the player himself, and this is what he says today: 'Just to set the record straight, I am committed to the Stormers until late 2021. The Bulls have made contact via my agent, but no decisions have been made.'"
Dobson added that he had been concerned by other media reports relating to his players and the transfer activity of the union.
"What's been of concern to me is a couple of inaccurate stories, which have been unnecessarily disruptive on the group," he said.
"For example, Pieter-Steph going to Montpellier for 1 million Euros. I was intricately involved in the negotiations from start to finish and I can tell you categorically that that offer never existed from Montpellier.
"Similarly, we never made an offer for Sintu Manjezi, as was reported over the weekend. We made an initial enquiry, but we certainly never made an offer of any amount.
"We will always respect the transfer windows and when contracts are coming up for renewal and we value our good relationship with the Cheetahs and other unions."
Dobson praised his squad for the attitude they had displayed during the testing lockdown period as the fight against the global coronavirus continues, but added that inaccurate reporting surrounding the futures of players could have a negative impact.
"This is a very stressful and disorienting time for everybody and the welfare of our players and squad is incredibly important," he said.
"If I can protect our players while they are working remotely in some small way from unnecessary angst caused by unfounded rumours ... then I need to do that.
"I think we've done very well given the profile of our Springboks, firstly to have retained these players last year immediately after the World Cup and to have retained them though this exit window and coming through unscathed from a Springbok point of view.
"Given the difficult circumstances we find ourselves in at the moment, I'm absolutely thrilled at the commitment of the existing squad to stay at the union."