Mitchell signs Waikato deal
December 24, 2003

Former All Blacks coach John Mitchell has ended speculation over his future and signed a three year deal to coach NPC side Waikato.

In a further endorsement of his credentials the New Zealand Rugby Union have also contracted Mitchell for a further two years in a technical coaching position.

The decision means Mitchell has resisted lucrative overseas offers to stay in Hamilton where he also starred as a player in a ten-year career.

In a statement NZRU chief executive Chris Moller said Mitchell's role would involve coaching and assisting players, teams and other coaches around the country.

"John is an experienced international coach and we are delighted he has agreed to remain in New Zealand," said Moller.

"He delivered an outstanding on-field performance with a young and exciting All Blacks team, impacted only by the disappointing World Cup semifinal loss to Australia.

"John can take a great deal of satisfaction from his record as All Blacks coach.

"He has demonstrated a great deal of maturity by remaining in New Zealand rugby after what must have been a huge disappointment in not being re-appointed as All Blacks coach."

Waikato Rugby Union chief executive Gary Dawson tol allblacks.com, "John Mitchell has proven himself to be an outstanding coach in the international rugby arena. Coaches of his calibre are not found everyday, so it is with great pleasure that the union welcomes Mitchell back to the province as coach of Waikato.

"As a former Waikato player with 134 matches to his name, Mitchell knows first hand the history, traditions and values of the Waikato Rugby Union. Mitchell is a proud Waikato man and I'm sure the Waikato rugby public and players alike will welcome his appointment."

Mitchell himself added, "The Waikato Rugby Union has high expectations of what I will bring to the team," he said. "I also have high personal expectations that my All Blacks experience will translate into success for Waikato in the NPC series.

"I know the supporters will be looking for a great performance this coming season from both the team and myself."

Existing coach Ian Foster has now moved on to coach the Chiefs.

The NZRU has also rejected rumours that Mitchell had an affair with his his personal assistant Bridget Hickman at this year's World Cup.

"The NZRU regrets that John has been subjected to unsubstantiated and hurtful gossip and innuendo," he said.

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