Why Mitchell said no to Stormers

    2015-06-11 10:12

    Cape Town - Former All Black coach John Mitchell has admitted that he was approached by the Stormers to replace Allister Coetzee as head coach but that he had turned them down.

    Coetzee will step down from his position after this year’s Super Rugby competition to coach the Kobe Kobelco Steelers in Japan.

    Former Sharks coach and current Hurricanes assistant John Plumtree is now believed to be the favourite to replace Coetzee.

    Mitchell, who also previously coached the Lions and Force, confirmed that the Stormers were interested in his services.

    Mitchell told the website that he would have looked at an offer from the Stormers more seriously had the terms been more agreeable to him.

    “An approach was made to me and there were negotiations, but unfortunately Gert Smal is only contracted as Western Province Director of Rugby for another two years, so there were no guarantees for me beyond that period,” said Mitchell.

    “Had I been offered a four-year deal, it would have been different. But I have travelled around the world a lot to pursue my career as a coach and didn’t want to uproot my family again for the promise of just two years. I didn’t want to commute either, as I believe you have to be fully immersed in a culture to be effective as a coach.

    “There was also uncertainty about how long Gert would stay. If the Boks bomb in this year’s World Cup, will he not be courted by SARU to fill one of the national posts, perhaps not as a coach but maybe as a performance director? I can work with Gert but I have been in a situation before where I signed up a coach to work with a Director of Rugby and then it never happened and I was left on a limb.

    “It happened when I was at the Lions. I joined them ostensibly to work with Dick Muir, who was officially the Lions’ Director of Rugby, but it just never happened. There was some misunderstanding somewhere and I never got to see Dicky in that role. I don’t want to have to go through that again.”

    Mitchell also questioned whether the Stormers had enough decent coaches in their system to be truly successful.

    “I have no doubt that WP have the playing resources and the talent pipeline, but do they have the competency in the rest of the coaching structure there to win a Super Rugby title? I place a question mark over that. I don’t believe that one man alone can go in and effect change and turn a franchise into a Super Rugby champion unit.”

    Aside from Plumtree, other names mentioned to possibly succeed Coetzee as Stormers coach include Springbok forwards coach Johan van Graan, Junior Springbok coach Dawie Theron and former Wallaby mentor Ewen McKenzie.

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