Fresh start for Mitchell?
John Mitchell has hinted at a possible move to another leading South African union once his legal battle with the Lions is resolved.
The former All Black mentor has been embroiled in an employment dispute with the Johannesburg union for the past three months following an alleged player revolt against his pragmatic coaching style.
Mitchell said he was eager to continue his coaching career in South Africa and plans to remain proactive during his suspension.
“At this stage I’ve been in the game for 18 years, directly in coaching, so there’s the ability to go into the media … thinking about imparting knowledge in coaching the coaches throughout the country,” Mitchell told Ballz Radio about his immediate plans.
Mitchell made it clear that his goal is to return to coaching full time.
“I’ve been in two major development jobs [at the Western Force and the Lions] since the All Blacks so it might be time for me to go into a good structure and a reliable organisation going forward,” said Mitchell.
“Right now, obviously, I’m still suspended and going through a hearing but I’m in a very good legal position and I just need to trust the process and the truth will eventually come out.”
Mitchell, asked what advice he would give under-fire Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer - whose current 42 percent win ratio is the worst of any Springbok mentor since Carel du Plessis (37 percent) in 1997 - echoed the sentiments of former Springbok World Cup-winning coach Jake White that he should trust his structures.
“I think the advice by Jake is exceptional advice. You’ve got to stand by what you believe in and be convicted to that. Heyneke needs to be congratulated on that.
“In saying that, he needs to be thoughtful of his application to make adjustments. I think there’s exceptional talent in the country and while people may see it as a rebuilding phase and the team having a lack of experience, it still comes down to execution. If you look at the weekend, they certainly had a far greater attacking intent, but their execution needs to improve.”
Mitchell said he would overhaul the current backline and introduce a string of young, inventive players into the back division and employ a more expanse game plan.
“I, personally, would love to see a backline of … the development of [Francois] Hougaard’s pass, [Johan] Goosen, [Pat] Lambie, [Juan] De Jongh, JP Pietersen back, [Bryan] Habana and I think Jaco Taute and Francois Steyn could really have a crack for the fullback position,” said Mitchell.
“I think that side would have a far greater attacking intent, certainly have the ability to beat a player one-on-one. I’d like to see the outsides get a lot more ball and they can still maintain a good set-piece and a tactical kicking game, which has always been a great strength of the Boks,” he added.