Mitchell's future a mystery

2009-01-09 08:02
In the dark (Gallo Images)
Perth - Western Force coach John Mitchell's absolute future may not be known until just days before the start of the Super 14 season, with the report emanating from the independent inquiry into the Kiwi's coaching style not expected for another three weeks.

While coach, board and players have used this week to attempt to smooth over the massive cracks which appeared in the club before Christmas, serious issues still remain while the findings of retired judge Robert Anderson QC remain up in the air.

And although the restrictions placed on Mitchell's coaching duties before New Year have ostensibly been lifted, his on-field contact with players this week has so far been minimal - while RugbyWA chairman Geoff Stooke said the report which prompted the enforced distance would be a while coming yet.

"There is a little bit of work to be done but I think it should not to be too long. I don't know exactly (when to expect it), but I would like to think within the next two or three weeks," Stooke said.

With Mitchell seemingly determined to see out his contract which extends until the end of 2011, the Force is facing a major dilemma if Justice Anderson was to recommend the club would be better off without him.

The former All Black mentor has already been very public in his appointment of a lawyer to handle his interests - with his contract reputedly worth more than $1 million.

Stooke said financial implications of any move to oust the coach had not entered the equation.

"Not at all - when issues are raised we take what we consider the most appropriate and fairest methods of investigation," Stooke said.

"We are not pre-empting anything, but certainly any financial implications going forward are not part of our considerations at this stage.

"He has been interacting with the group - he is working with the team and working through with the match committee ... he is back doing his job as the head coach."

And despite plenty of Force favourites - including Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell - out of contract at season's end, Stooke also claimed any dissatisfaction players had with the coach had not translated into a desire to leave Perth - yet.

"We have got no guys in that situation at this point in time. All the players with us are contracted at least until the end of this season," Stooke told 6PR radio.

"That is not even an issue."


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