Aviva Premiership
Mitchell sets sights on improving Sale's fortunes
ESPN Staff
November 28, 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 is now at the Sharks © Getty Images

John Mitchell has arrived at the Sale Sharks and has his sights set on pushing the team up the table.

Mitchell will feature on Sale's newly formed 'Rugby Strategy Management Board' and will work alongside Sharks boss Steve Diamond and head coach Bryan Redpath in an attempt to improve the side's woeful Aviva Premiership form. They have won just one of their nine games and are five points off London Irish in eleventh. He landed at the Sharks on Tuesday and the club claim he was on the training paddock within an hour of his arrival.

Mitchell's move to Sale has been in the pipeline for a while but he was fighting misconduct charges that were levelled at him by his previous employers the Lions. He has now been cleared and has since left his post as head coach of the South African franchise but he revealed that seeking an amicable end to his dealings with his previous employers, where he will act as a consultant, was key before he could embark on his new post with the Sharks.

"Dimes [Steve Dimaond] sort of gave me an SOS call to see what was happening," Mitchell told the Manchester Evening News. "At that particular time I was in suspension and had to go through a process. I'm thrilled to have got through that process to be found innocent of all allegations.

"The next thing was to be reinstated in my position and then at that point I mutually agreed with the Golden Lions that they have moved on and emotionally I have moved on. That's what I had to get done. It's taken a lot longer than I would have hoped. It's been six months and five days of a hearing. So it's been an arduous process but I had to get everything cleared so that I could move on. My reputation is still very much intact and also my brand.

"To come over and have a look was quite refreshing as I was able to understand what was happening at Sale and see why the team are in this position and then look at bringing some solutions. So I've been talking to Dimes about certain ideas to help move us forward. I was always committed to coming back. I said to Steve that I wouldn't let him down. I would have liked to have been here sooner but obviously I was still employed by the Lions. There was a lot of speculation but I was always coming back."

Mitchell, who acted as player coach at the team between 1996 and 1998, took in Sale's games against the Cardiff Blues, Montpellier and the Worcester Warriors and he believes that "some players need to increase their desire and their performance within the group". He also claims that Sale need to change the area of the pitch where they are playing their rugby.

"If there is one thing I've noticed, it's probably that were playing at the wrong end of the field and we need to create more pressure as a team," Mitchell said. "We seem to be quite comfortable and enjoy playing with the ball but I'd like to see us get a little more excited without the ball and create more pressure at the right end of the field."

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