Force facing Mitchell battle
August 11, 2010
John Mitchell is currently coaching the Lions in South Africa © Getty Images
The Western Force are facing a possible battle over the future of head coach John Mitchell.
The former All Blacks coach is currently working with the Golden Lions during the Currie Cup but the hierarchy at the Johannesburg union are reportedly keen to tie up his services for next year's Super 15 campaign.
Mitchell will step down from his role with the Force at the end of the 2011 season but according to Lions president Kevin de Klerk they may press the issue.
"We are negotiating with John to remain at the Lions," he told Newstime. "But this depends on whether there is a way out of his contract and if the Western Force will release him.
"If we are able to retain his services it would be a bonus because he is a good coach and it would assist us in recruiting a quality group of players to strengthen the union. I can't speak for him, but it looks as though he is enjoying his time at the Lions.
"The feedback I have received from the players about their experiences of working with John has been very positive. I am over the moon with what he has done in the little time that he has been here."
The Lions, who lost all 13 of their Super 14 games in 2010, are currently sixth in the Currie Cup table after five games. Western Force chief Vern Reid has maintained that 'no formal negotiations' have taken place between Mitchell and his short-term employers. Wallabies skills coach Richard Graham will inherit the Force reins in 2012.
"I have spoken to John Mitchell in Johannesburg and he has advised me that no formal negotiations have taken place with the Lions in regards to their head coaching position for the 2011 Super rugby season," he said. "This has also been confirmed by John's management, The Fordham Company. At this point we have not had contact with the Lions or their president about their intentions."