Rugby

Stormers: Don't rush naming new coach

2015-11-24 14:01
John Mitchell (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - All signs point towards John Mitchell being unveiled as the new Stormers coach. 

These reports continue to gather momentum as the New Zealand-born mentor is understood to be keen on coaching again and he meets the very specific criteria outlined by Western Province director of rugby Gert Smal last week. 

"Six or seven years" of Super Rugby experience is Smal's minimum requirement for the new coach, while international experience would also be ideal. 

While he hasn't coached at senior level since 2012, Mitchell ticks both those boxes having taken charge of the Western Force for five years and the Lions for two. Mitchell was also All Blacks coach from 2002-04.

It is an appointment that makes sense on the surface following the hasty exit of Eddie Jones, but one can see why Stormers fans might fear a case of déjà vu.

SARU is set for its next general council meeting on December 11 and it is at this meeting that the fate of under-fire Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer will be decided. 

The latest mumblings are that Meyer could be offered a one-year contract extension, but if that doesn't in fact happen and Meyer is given the boot, then another "Eddie Jones" situation potentially arises. 

According to recent bookmakers' odds, Mitchell is the second favourite - behind fellow Kiwi John Plumtree - to be the next Springbok coach. 

And if there are two things we have learnt from the Jones/Stormers/RFU saga, they are that:

1. Bookies are seldom wrong, and

2. It's difficult to stand in the way of a coach with international aspirations

Can you even begin to imagine a situation where the Stormers unveil Mitchell as their new coach in, say, the next week or two. Then the Boks announce that Meyer's contract will not being extended. Then, for whatever reason, Plumtree rules himself out of the running for the Bok position. What then? Newly appointed Stormers coach John Mitchell is the new favourite for the Bok job? 

There are a lot of 'ifs' and 'buts' in that equation, but it really isn't so far-fetched. 

The Stormers have been down this road before - and recently enough for one to presume that this time around they will make doubly sure their new signing will be around for not only the start of next year's Super Rugby season, but the duration of his contract.

Alternatively, they may decide to wait until Meyer's future is determined before making any bold statements. 

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