Mitchell always planned to leave Lions for Sale

Former All Blacks and Golden Lions coach has rejoined Aviva Premiership Rugby club Sale Sharks where first started coaching in 1996 and has already started coaching the players.


Mitchell explained that Sale CEO Steve Diamond contacted whilst he was still coaching in South Africa but said that before he could join Sale he had to clear his name with the Lions.


“Well, Dimes sort of gave me an SOS call to see what was happening. 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. “


Mitchell joined the Lions in 2010 as Currie Cup coach with a year to run on his Western Force contract but after a short time in South Africa he had his Force contract cancelled in order for him to join the Lions.


The 2003 All Black Rugby World Cup coach’s time with the Force was not an entirely happy affair as the players objected to his style of coaching and his powers had to be cut back.


Ironically earlier this year the Lions players made almost identical objections to Mitchell’s coaching style which led to him being suspended by the Lions for almost six months but was eventually cleared of all charges.


“It’s taken a lot longer than I would have hoped. It’s been six months and five days of a hearing,” Mitchell told the Manchester Evening News.


“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. ”


When Mitchell was cleared by the Lions last month he said in a statement, “I want my head coach position back at the Lions.”


“There is some unfinished business to do with the Lions.”


“Furthermore, I am determined that my future will be in South Africa”.


However Mitchell revealed that he had no intention of staying in South Africa and had committed to the Sale Sharks who had appointed him on their Rugby Strategy Management Board.


“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.


“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. (Mitchell watched the games against Cardiff Blues, Montpellier and Worcester Warriors).”


Mitchell came to terms with the Golden Lions last week on Friday and wil continue to work with them as a technical consultant.

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While Mitchell’s arrival at Sale took longer than expected the club need him now more than ever as they have only won one match in the Premiership and on the weekend lost 29-3 to Gloucester and Mitchell wants the Sharks to change the way they are playing.


“The reality is that we are ‘bottom of the log’. It’s not going to be an easy job but I think there are a couple of immediate issues. I think some players need to increase their desire and their performance within the group. They need to have a far greater collective desire to change this and we need to play more pressure football.


“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. 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.


“At Sale we have always prided ourselves on playing an attractive style of rugby but also been a very hungry side.

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