Mitchell: Franchises need to grow own talent
Ockert de Villiers - Sport24
Johannesburg - South African rugby teams needed to grow their pipeline of talent if they want to adapt to the stripping of the country's player resources, according to former coach John Mitchell.
South African rugby pundits have been sent into a panic over a perceived lack of player depth after the defeat of the four South African Super Rugby franchises in action over the weekend.
Next year, the Super Rugby competition will accommodate the Kings as South Africa’s sixth franchise in an expanded 18-team competition.
Speaking in the SuperSport studio on Saturday night, former Springbok coach Nick Mallett questioned whether there were enough quality players in the country to have six competitive teams in next year's competition.
"The Lions have played above themselves and have played incredibly well to be where they are," Mallett said during the broadcast.
"Given the way the Cheetahs performed in this game (against the Highlanders), how on earth are the Kings going to compete next year?
"Where are they going to find the players?
"It's a big concern for 2016.
"We're going to have an extra Super Rugby franchise and we've got 350 professional rugby players competing overseas."
Mitchell however believed South Africa had a deep pool of talent but with a large contingent plying their trade abroad, franchises needed to invest in the future.
"We have close to 250 players overseas which is about the equivalent to almost six professional rugby teams,” Mitchell said.
"We are about to go to six professional rugby teams in Super Rugby so that is almost equivalent to 12 teams we are catering for around the world.
"We need to spend more time in the nurturing and development of the potential international or professional player at a younger level."
He said franchises tended to hold onto ageing players too long because they did not have confidence in their talent supply within their own structures.
"You’ve got to have that pipeline and when you’ve got that the timing of letting go of the ageing player becomes a lot easier," he said.
"Until you actually have that pipeline you see why a lot of coaches are reluctant to let go of the ageing player because they haven’t got confidence in the development of the youth."
Mitchell said franchises ended up buying ageing players for more than it would have cost them to develop home grown talent.
He said the Lions and the Stormers were investing in growing their player stocks from the junior levels while the Bulls have been forced to do the same after their mass exodus in 2013.
"It is critical (to develop) because otherwise you end up buying ageing players and you end up buying players that have proven track records of changing clubs and there are reasons for them changing clubs," Mitchell said.
"If you bring players up through your youth system by the time he gets to the market place you’ve probably had three contracts out of them."