Aviva Premiership
Mitchell still expected to make Sale switch
ESPN Staff
November 9, 2012
Lions coach John Mitchell talks to the media, Lions press conference, Johannesburg Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa, May 31, 2012
The future of former All Blacks coach John Mitchell remains a mystery © Getty Images

Former All Blacks coach John Mitchell is still expected to link up with Premiership side Sale Sharks despite stressing his desire to return to his post with the Johannesburg-based Lions.

The former Sale player and coach was recently found not guilty of all complaints of misconduct levelled against him earlier this year - allegations that led to him being suspended by the Golden Lions Rugby Union (GLRU).

With his suspension formally lifted, Mitchell has been requested to return to work according to his legal representatives but speculation continues to link him with a permanent role with the Sharks having acted as a consultant in recent weeks and also been appointed as a member of the club's 'rugby strategy management board' and charged with helping to guide the club's future.

"John is elated with the outcome and feels that his position and reputation as an international coach has been fully vindicated," said his management agency, The Fordham Company. "He is looking forward to returning to Ellis Park as head coach to assist the Lions to achieve their full potential."

It has also been revealed that the disciplinary panel has made a number of recommendations relating to the "restoring of the working relationships between Mitchell and the GLRU" that reached breaking point in June. "John is committed to working hard together with the GLRU to address these issues going forward," added John Fordham, the agency's chief executive.

Fordham added that Mitchell's legal representatives and the GLRU's lawyers Erasmus Inc were engaged in discussions to address the resolution of certain underlying issues that gave rise to the complaints and to discuss Mitchell's future with the club. "John is committed to remaining in South Africa and in continuing in his position as head coach of the GLRU. He's looking forward to his return to the club tomorrow," he said.

However, the Manchester Evening News reports that Sale remain confident that Mitchell will return to the club in the near future. Officials at the Premiership strugglers reportedly declined to go on the record but the newspaper believes that Mitchell is just seeking a 'satisfactory' end to his three-year stint with the GLRU.

Mitchell steered the Golden Lions to the Currie Cup title in 2011 but success has been elusive on the Super Rugby stage with The Lions relegated from the competition at the end of this season having finished the lowest of the South African franchises to be replaced by the Southern Kings.

In related news, former Lions player Jonathan Mokoena insists reinstating Mitchell would be "biggest mistake" in the history of South African rugby". The former South African 7s captain, who spent a brief spell with the Lions from 2010-11, took to Twitter to air his concerns about Mitchell's coaching style.

In a stunning attack he also labelled Mitchell a "demon" who treated players like "animals". He added: "We (the players) are humans, not animals. We are adults. You don't curse and swear adults who are married and already have children - that is not how you treat people."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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