Currie Cup

Mitchell: I won't pack my bags

2011-07-07 22:21
John Mitchell (File)
Pieter Jordaan

Johannesburg - "We could also be part of the negativity. Or we can decide to focus on what is within out control - to win rugby games."

After a nightmare week for the Golden Lions Rugby Union (GLRU), it's easy to forget that there is a team that has already sweated it out on the training field in the build-up to the Currie Cup.

The tournament starts next Friday at Coca-Cola Park for the Lions when they take on the Pumas - and Mitchell and his coaching team are planning big things.

The coach is not focusing on what is happening in the boardroom, even though he has pleaded a united front from the union's management on a few occasions this year.

Mitchell says that the split between the GLRU and its partner, GumaTAC, has not made him think about packing his bags.

"It's the last thing I'm thinking of. We have to lead the organisation by focusing on our task - and that is rugby," said Mitchell.

"It's a pity that that relationship (with the partner) was ended. We also need to remember that the agreement was drawn up in such a manner that it promoted the acquisition of players and the development of amateur rugby. And that is where I'd like to see change."

Little has changed for Mitchell and the union's best players - and they could lead the Lions in the right direction by mounting a serious challenge for the Currie Cup.

Their recent 25-28 defeat to the Valke in a friendly game is not a cause for concern as it was a Lions under-21 side that played.

"The Super Rugby tournament is over and we now want to build on the consistency we created in last year's Currie Cup. We will also try to expand our depth in the tournament," he said in reference to the young players that may still get an opportunity to play in the tournament.

Mitchell said that the Lions' playing squad had been cut considerably in weeks leading into the Currie Cup.

Only players that are Super Rugby contenders will be kept.

GumaTAC said last week after the split with the GLRU that the union had up to 90 contracted players, of which some were not even participating in training.

Scrumhalf Rory Kockott and flyhalf André Pretorius have also left to play their rugby in France.

There have been no acquisitions ahead of the Currie Cup, but the Lions have enough depth to be considered Currie Cup contenders.

The absence of contracted Springboks from the Sharks, Western Province and Blue Bulls could pave the way for the Lions and Cheetahs to have a good Currie Cup.

Wing Lionel Mapoe and New Zealand backline player James Kamana are injured and will therefore not be able to play against the Pumas next Friday.

Flank Michael Rhodes still has to serve out his full suspension for foul play in the Super Rugby match against the Highlanders.

Tighthead prop Kevin Buys will not play in the Currie Cup this year after injuring his knee on the Lions' Australasian tour.
 

Read more on:    currie cup  |  john mitchell  |  johannesburg
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