Aviva Premiership
Mitchell: There'll be one leader at Sale
ESPN Staff
October 23, 2012
John Mitchell gets to work in South Africa, Platinum Leopards v Xerox Lions, Currie Cup, Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Phokeng, South Africa, July 9, 2010
John Mitchell will bring a no-nonsense approach to Sale © Getty Images

The man poised to be charged with salvaging the Sale Sharks' season John Mitchell has singled out Danny Cipriani as an "exceptional talent" and is keen on bringing in former England boss Brian Ashton to help get the best out of the fly-half.

Mitchell is set to join the Sharks backroom staff after his current dispute with his former side the Lions is settled. It is not clear what role Mitchell will take at the Sharks with the club originally advertising for a forwards coach but recent reports suggest that the Kiwi is likely to take on a more powerful role which involves the first-team. Bryan Redpath is currently their director of rugby but Mitchell, who has a reputation as a no-nonsense coach, is adamant that there will only be one man calling the shots at the Sharks.

"Teams can only have one leader," Mitchell told reporters. "We'll determine that when the time is right. The team certainly won't have two leaders. There's always got to be one leader. It's about getting a clear message across.

"I'd like to think that I'm a strong character, but when you are like that you are either seen as a freedom fighter or as a terrorist. You've got to have uniqueness as a coach. I make no excuses for my leadership. I am not employed to be a manager, I'm employed to be a leader."

Sale currently have just one win to their name this season - which came against the Cardiff Blues in the first round of the Heineken Cup - and Mitchell's first task will be to help move them up the Aviva Premiership table with the Sharks languishing in last. He was present at both of Sale's Heineken Cup matches and Cipriani is one man who has caught his eye.

The former Melbourne Rebels fly-half was one of Sale's two big name signings in the close season with Richie Gray the other. Cipriani changed the game against the Blues when he was thrown on in the second-half and Mitchell is keen to bring the best out of the fly-half revealing that he may approach former England boss Ashton to work alongside Cipriani.

"Fly halves like Cipriani, with his exceptional talent, need to be encouraged," Mitchell said. "You cannot afford not to. From what I've seen of him he is quite special. He needs to be shown leadership. I know Brian Ashton very well and I know he and Danny go back a long way and are close.

"I am sure if things work out with Sale then I will be calling Brian. It would be my responsibility to get the best out of the players we have. It is a question, I would think, of clearing Danny's head and getting his focus right. He seems to have had a lot of people telling him what to do and turning his head. By nature players like Cipriani are gamblers, that's why they play in the position they do, they like to take risks, try things.

"They live in a bubble. Sometimes with players like Danny too much emphasis by coaches is placed on what they cannot do, rather than what they are really good at and what their strengths are."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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