Mitchell begins his Lions stint

2010-06-07 21:15

Johannesburg - The Xerox Lions on Monday gained a former All Blacks coach and a Springbok centre but lost a Bok forward.

Western Force coach John Mitchell joined the Lions for the Currie Cup season and will act as head coach of the Lions during the absence of the union's coaching director Dick Muir, who is with the Springbok side as backline coach. Muir will rejoin the Lions about six weeks before the end of the Currie Cup campaign.

Former Springbok lock Johan Ackermann will be the forward coach while former All Blacks flyhalf Carlos Spencer, who will act as player-coach, will look after the backline - and the idea is that he will do more coaching than playing as the Lions look to blood young players for the future.

Sharks centre Waylon Murray earlier on Monday signed a two-year contract with the Lions, while prop Heinke van der Merwe, who had not made the Lions starting line-up for most of the season and decided to spend his future with Irish club Leinster.

"It is my goal to retain the winning culture for the Lions, a proud side with a proud future. My first job will be to take a look at where they are and why they didn't perform to their potential in the Super 14," said Mitchell.

"The Currie Cup is totally different to the Super 14 and in Australia (where there is no similar provincial competition) I didn't have much to do except to plan for the next season and to reflect on the past.

"I've always wanted to coach in the Currie Cup. I understand Dick Muir's vision and I believe in him," Mitchell said while making it clear that his no-nonsense approach will not change for what is really a temporary job.

"There will be no place for comfort zones. I'll be looking to instil a strong working ethic in terms of conditioning and skills and to ask questions of the experiences learnt in the Super 14 campaign.

Mitchell said he was confident that the team would move forward from their disastrous season "because the memories are still fresh and vivid." Murray, who has struggled to make the Sharks side after a long injury lay-off, says he is "incredibly excited" to be in the new environment.

"Hopefully I can learn and contribute to the Lions, and I'm looking forward to more game time." He pointed out that, at 24, he was still young enough to recover the form that made him one of the country's best and earned him three caps - against Samoa, Australia and New Zealand - in 2007.

"I'm young enough and I'll do my damnest," he said.

Van der Merwe will be joining Leinster from 1 July 2010 for a period of two years.

GLRU CEO Manie Reyneke has expressed regret about Heinke's move, but agreed that it was a great opportunity for the player to better his career. "We firmly believe in giving our players the best opportunities in life and to allow them to grow as players and this is the perfect opportunity for him to reach his full potential. As sad as we are to lose him, we could not deny him such a fantastic opportunity", Reyneke said.


  • Bad management - 2010-06-07 16:36

    Fire CEO Manie Reyneke...!!! ...asap..!!

  • leeuman - 2010-06-07 16:51

    Hey Waylon, welcome to the lashing post!!

  • NeilA - 2010-06-07 16:52

    the only way the LIONS are going to win anything is if they change their name to the Blue Bulls.

  • Marshal - 2010-06-07 16:57

    I hope there is a cooling off period to the contract. My advice: RUN.

  • herman - 2010-06-07 17:03

    Where is J M coming from - to "retain the winning culture" -it's going to be a looooooooooooooong season fr John Mitchell

  • CHOOSE ON MERRIT - 2010-06-07 17:12

    Looking at Snorres poor choices in choosing players lets me wonder WHAT TE HELL DOES DiCK DO THERE! Does this not explain why things have not improved at the LIONS? Dick give Snorre some insight or go as well!

  • kurt - 2010-06-07 17:12

    How many more chances does this sorry pathetic bunch want? Common Spears/Kings it is your turn, keep up the fight to be included in next years super 15 you can do no worse then this bunch.

  • bulawayo-based-bok - 2010-06-07 17:32

    well......the lions squad is actually pretty damn strong!! they have some good loosies and front rankers and a backline with the likes of Vermaak, Burton Francis, Chavhanga, La Grange, Killian, Murray, Hollenbach, Delport....come on that is a seriously solid backline at least! i think with some good coaching/conditioning and self-belief this lions side can do a "Reds" and shock some people in the CC and next year's super 15 as well!.....COME ON LIONS!!!!!!! (i don't support them btw)

  • BC - 2010-06-07 17:50

    First you have to GET the winning culture, then you can worry about 'retaining it'. Perhaps with Muir out the way to start with Mitchel can get things going in the right direction.

  • @kurt - 2010-06-07 17:56

    Kurt, you should know that the Melbourne based team was selected as the 15th team - I believe they should have a 2nd tier competition (like they doing with the Varsity Cup now) and let the bottom-of-the-log-team drop down to the second division of the Super 15 while the first team of the second division is promoted to the 1st division. This will increase competition for a spot in the first division - clearly the Lions isn't a 1st division team. @Bad management, I agree with you, I believe a team's performance is only as good as its management staff and the problem goes all the way to the top. Check where the Bulls were (ended last on S14 log with 3 points to their name) a few years ago and look now (I'm a Stormers supporter). About Waylon Murray joining a weaker side to get more game time, not sure if it's a wise decision - I believe Cobus Grobbelaar is a very good player who is wasting his prime with the Lions - put him in one of the stronger unions and see how he will shine. Looking forward to S15 - it's going to be a good one - I hope!

  • John Mitchell - 2010-06-07 18:00

    Hi guys, please calm down, I'm only here in SA to actually source some players for the Western Force for our 2012 Super 15 campaign. Thanks for understanding. Yours truly, John M.

  • ian - 2010-06-07 18:47

    Well - I am a Cheetahs supporter BUT hell it would be nice to have the Lions back with some winning ways. I am really hoping that new selections and new training brings some success. We have the players in SA, just need to unearth them and then train them correctly - as long as they dont rob the Cheetahs base, as all the other provices do. That is where I must concede - begrudgingly - the Aussies are good. They have the smallest pool of Rugby Union players but are up there with the best (SA & NZ)

  • hou by die blou - 2010-06-07 19:10

    @Kurt. I'm from George and will love to see Super 15 games here, but believe me, the kings can do worst than the lions. The Kings players will be from SWD, EP and Border. In the Vodacom Cup they were at the bottom 3 teams of their log. Even the lions's Vodacom team did better.

  • Ruthless - 2010-06-07 19:18

    Pick Chuck Norris - that is the only way you will ever win.

  • bulawayo-based-bok - 2010-06-07 20:27

    it's good that we have some more 13's around like Waylon Murray who before injury was a very decent player indeed and had the pace and power to be a great bok! he has since lost some confidence and sharpness he had before his injuries! but there still remains a rugby player who can more then contain the likes of Nonu/Fruean etc...(the oke is 6ft 3 and 105kg for f*CK's sake) we definitely have a shortage of 13's in the country! or do we? see i think that Jaque Fourie(as incredible as he is) cannot play every game! so....i thought of who we had in reserve and this who i thought of: Marius Joubert! he is in the form of his life and injury free/ Waylon Murray(a possibility and his credentials have been mentioned above)/Robert Ebersohn(has the X-Factor and great potential)/Juan de Jongh(13 is his favourite position and we have Olivier and JDV at 12)/Stephan Dippenaar(solid in defence and can only improve)......

  • peebo - 2010-06-07 20:39

    As a staunch Stormers and WP supporter I can only say please do something with these guys.They have everything on paper and only need a change of mindset - come on Lions - it would be great to see the occasional upset at least!!

  • WPForever - 2010-06-07 21:30

    I hate the Lions, they are an embaressment to rugby. Bring the Kings ASAP!

  • Blue Jake - 2010-06-07 22:30

    Loffie is smiling from ear to ear.

  • Hannes from Perth - 2010-06-08 04:00

    Mitchell have a track record to make young players the future stars. Just look at Pocock, Brown, O'Connor, Drew Mitchell etc. He also makes mediocre players play fairly well and some of them even earned caps for their country such as Cross, Valentine and Cowan. I look forward to what Mitchell can bring to the Lions. The youngsters that are prepared to learn and work will benefit the most from an excellent coach that shown Deans the ropes.

  • Chris du Plessis - 2010-06-08 04:40

    Hi Guys lets stick together and help lift the players up and as you guys seen that John Mitchell have done a great job with the Perh team so give him a change that will be only fair to do so.

  • Michael - 2010-06-08 07:10

    Now that the Lions have a decent coaching staff, the clubs under Lions now need to get a half decent administration voted in. A new broom and all of that. No bums on seats means fewer Rand in bank meaning lower salaries. Only the die hard Lions supports go watch these games. With a new administration and this new coaching staff we can expect a breath of fresh air been breathed into the once proud union. Lets hope.

  • Dronkie - 2010-06-08 07:16

    At last - a decent 13 @ the Lions...Welcome Waylon !!

  • Deon2 - 2010-06-08 07:42

    Mitchell only here to see our Springbok game plans for next year's world cup. Get rid of him and let him stay on the exile island (Australia)

  • @WP forever - 2010-06-08 08:49

    Shows you how much passion you have for rugby you chop! Hating a SA team in the S14 speaks for itself. Go knit or something. The Lions may not be great but hell they are better than EP, SWD & Border. Oh but you wont know as you probably "hate" vodacom cup as well? W****r! BTW: I support Stormers/WP too!

  • JFK - 2010-06-08 08:49

    If it is true that J M is going to push start the development of all the young talent for the Lions, PLEASE make sure that proper contracts are signed with them before the development starts. Fire the idiot who drew up the players contracts of Jacques Fourie, Willem Alberts and Ludick. Or was it all part of the bigger plan for SA rugby???

  • Remo the Wanderer - 2010-06-08 09:07

    @wpforever and all the other so called supporters! WAKEUP! this is the CurrieCup @ssholes. The Lions have asked for the Kings to play Currie Cup before they play Superrugby. I guess you are worried that the Lions really perform and then you don't get your chance. Oh yes, and before you talk about the Lions administration, why is it with all the so called industry in the EC why is it the poorest Province? I know JHB has problems and crime but the Eastern Cape does not have the infrastructure and is really a cesspoll of corruption, and maybe you should get your VC team playing beter and while you are at it improve your universities and the young rugby players will not go and study in the big Cities. I hope I have touched a nerve or two!

  • PIERRE - 2010-06-09 10:31

    "It is my goal to retain the winning culture for the Lions, a proud side with a proud future. My first job will be to take a look at where they are and why they didn't perform to their potential in the Super 14," said Mitchell. what??? winning??? culture???

  • Frik Bruwer - 2010-06-09 10:49

    Well i hope the LIONS will do better in the Curry Cup than they did in Super 14.But next year they are going to be a big factor in the Super 14 they bought good players,cant wait for nexr Super 14 next year

  • CitizenX - 2010-06-10 12:03

    @Dronkie, yipee now they just need 14 other players!!! Also big concern when the new coach believes his new team has a "wining culture". Has someone actually told him he is the new Lions coach?

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