Super 14
Mitchell on brink at Western Force
December 24, 2008
The Force's coach John Mitchell looks on during the warm up before the round 12 Super 14 match between the Western Force and the Chiefs at Subiaco Oval in Perth, Australia on May 3, 2008.
Western Force boss John Mitchell is the subject of an enquiry after rumours of dissent sufaced at the franchise © Getty Images

The growing rift between former All Blacks boss John Mitchell and his employers at Western Force has prompted an enquiry from Rugby Western Australia (RugbyWA), the Super 14 franchise's governing body.

Rumours have surfaced in recent weeks pertaining to a rift between the straight-talking Mitchell and his senior players, with some reportedly feeling alienated by his leadership techniques.

Mitchell will remain in charge of the Perth based Force, currently embroiled in reported contract wrangling with Wallaby fly-half Matt Giteau who is seeking a move back to ACT Brumbies after becoming unhappy with lost money from a third-party sponsorship deal with failed fuel company Firepower, but (RugbyWA) has stated that "restrictions have been placed on his activities as head coach in the short term".

The action has been taken following "certain assertions which have been raised with RugbyWA (including from players and coaching staff)". The union has appointed a former Supreme Court judge, Robert Anderson QC, "to undertake certain inquiries of players, coaching staff and management of RugbyWA and to report to the board on these matters".

The union has also taken it upon itself to mediate between Mitchell and his support staff, at the request of Mitchell's advisors. There will be no further comment until Anderson's report is presented to the board.

Mitchell has defended his frank and potentially divisive leadership style, and also commited himself to the team and players, although he has admitted that certain training methods may have to be reassessed.

"I have always had an honest and open relationship with the players, and nothing will change," Mitchell said earlier this week. "Having said that, as a head coach you have always got to look to evolve, and I am always looking to evolve.

"I am contracted until June 2011, and I am totally committed to that contract - I will be meeting my obligations."

Mitchell has been in charge of Force since thier inception in 2006, and is currently on a four-year contract.


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