Mitchell announces he’ll stand down as Force coach

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    Western Force coach John Mitchell claims his team’s calamitous start to the Super 14 season has nothing to do with his decision to step down when his current contract expires.

    Mitchell, coach of the Force since its foundation year of 2006, confirmed on Wednesday he would not seek reappointment when his current deal expires at the end of next season.

    The Force have endured a disastrous start to their 2010 campaign, losing their opening five games as injuries to key players including marquee signing Andre Pretorius, David Pocock, Cameron Shepherd and Richard Brown took their toll.

    But The Fordham Company, which manages Mitchell, claimed their client made his decision to step away before the season even started.

    “Because of the circumstances of the Force’s injury-plagued start to the year, John’s focus recently has been squarely on the team and not on himself,” the agency’s chief executive John Fordham said in a statement.

    “But because Vern (Force chief executive Vern Reid) has been keen for some time to have a chat about John’s future plans, I decided this morning to be totally transparent with him.

    “The Force now has ample time to recruit a replacement and John always wanted to give them the courtesy of a long window.”

    Mitchell, who through a statement expressed his desire to see out his current contract, has endured a rocky ride in his four-and-a-half years at the Force.

    Alleged complaints from players and staff about their dealings with Mitchell in late 2008 threatened his hold on the top job as the club’s hierarchy ordered an independent inquiry in an attempt to defuse the situation.

    Mitchell was temporarily stood down and a raft of recommendations from the inquiry were implemented, the most notable being a more even spread of power among the coaching staff.

    The changes seemed to ease most of the tensions as the Force finished eighth in 2009, which included the Triple Crown with wins over Australian rivals the Reds, Waratahs and Brumbies.

    But the Firepower sponsorship debacle, which led to the departures of Matt Giteau to the Brumbies and Drew Mitchell to NSW at the end of last season, left gaping holes in the Force’s playing roster.

    While the recruitment of former Springbok Pretorius was hailed as a coup, his season-ending hamstring injury on the eve of round one was a devastating blow and one the Force never recovered from as the injury-curse spread throughout the team.

    In 57 games at the helm of the Force, Mitchell has guided the Perth-based franchise to 20 wins, four draws and 33 losses.

    That record is in stark contrast to his stint at the All Blacks, where he enjoyed an 86 per cent winning record before being axed after failing to lead the side to glory at the 2003 World Cup.

    Reid could not be contacted for comment on Wednesday.

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (19)

    • March 25th 2010 @ 9:06am
      Brett McKay said | March 25th 2010 @ 9:06am | ! Report

      I’ve had to come back to this after reading the same story elsewhere. Didn’t realise Mitchell’s contract expires the end of NEXT season!!

      Will he last that long though??

      • March 25th 2010 @ 9:46am
        reds fan said | March 25th 2010 @ 9:46am | ! Report

        surely not. i would think this is part of the softening up period. a mutual agreement will be made after the Force have located a replacement and Mitch has somewhere to go.

    • March 25th 2010 @ 9:33am
      Republican said | March 25th 2010 @ 9:33am | ! Report

      Talent thinly spread in Oz and now the Farce are feeling the pinch. Mitchell is a fine coach but he is not a miracle worker.

      With the Rebels only a season away things will only get worse.


      • Roar Guru

        March 25th 2010 @ 2:48pm
        rugbyfuture said | March 25th 2010 @ 2:48pm | ! Report

        talent isnt thinly spread, talent is not evenly spread and put on the toast. (if that makes sense?) all that needs to be done is a greater development cycle.

      • March 25th 2010 @ 5:51pm
        Justin said | March 25th 2010 @ 5:51pm | ! Report

        Is Mitchell really a fine coach? He had the best side in the world in the ABs and they were dumped out of the RWC. There were some terrible selections in that team and that has continued at the Force and Deans is similar in selection IMO.

        What else has he done?

        • March 25th 2010 @ 6:04pm
          ohtani's jacket said | March 25th 2010 @ 6:04pm | ! Report

          The All Blacks weren’t the best side in the world in 2003.

    • March 25th 2010 @ 9:59am
      Warren said | March 25th 2010 @ 9:59am | ! Report


      How does finishing eighth, with a win over the other Aus franchises somewhere in the season qualify the Force for the “Triple Crown”? This gives the impression that they actually won something, which they clearly didn’t. And sadly, I am a Force fan…

      This is another of my bugbears – the inane trophies played for in many sports. Just about every match/game has silverware Frank Worrel Trophy, Mandela Cup, Border/Gavaskar Cup etc regardless of the competition they are a part of or the season’s context.


    • March 25th 2010 @ 1:36pm
      Tony the Sandgroper said | March 25th 2010 @ 1:36pm | ! Report

      I think we have given John Mitchell enough chance to show us his skills. Time to move on and I dare say there are now some Australian coaches that would like to take an underperforming franchise and make it work. The ingredients have been at the Force for years but they have never reached their full potential in my humble opinion. From a business perspective it would be great to take a charge at a club with unrealised potential and great local support. John Mitchell served his purpose, it is now time to get a real motivator on the job, who can not only coach the lads to a few wins but also raise the profile of the sport. We get plenty of media play with John Worsfold, Mark Harvey and even the netball coaches. I have yet to hear a comment from Mitchell.

    • March 25th 2010 @ 1:38pm
      Hammer said | March 25th 2010 @ 1:38pm | ! Report

      all part of the journey …

    • March 25th 2010 @ 2:39pm
      mudskipper said | March 25th 2010 @ 2:39pm | ! Report

      Recruiting will be even tougher for next year if Mitchell stays… What player would sign with for 2011-12 and not know who the head coach will be… After last years player and staff revolt his recruiting was very poor fro 2010. The WARU & Force should have never agreed to such a long contract period for Mitch… He’s still dirty from the Firepower scam regardless of what he knew about it… Players can’t trust the guy…

      But he has had a fair crack and had some great talent under him, he has had his opportunities to get results mid table was his best…

      I suspect the early announcement is so the Force have an option to pay him out for 2011. I do find it interesting that he had to make a public statement…

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