Mitchell wants to assist Wallabies

Story by Sportal for the ARU
Tuesday, November 06, 2007 - 13:28 PM (AEST)

Western Force coach John Mitchell knows all about the pressures of being national coach, and has thrown his support behind Robbie Deans to take over the All Blacks, and has offered his services as assistant for the Wallabies, on a couple of conditions.

Mitchell, who coached New Zealand to the 2003 World Cup, would like to help the new Wallabies coach, but only if the new coach is someone he feels he can work with and as long as it does not interfere in his Super-14s duties with the Force.

"It is a serious offer, but it was always on the condition that I would not relinquish this position and that it would have to be the right head coach for me to be involved with," Mitchell said, at the opening day of the Western Force pre-season.

"At this moment in time, the process will determine the head coach and the assistant coaches will be left to down the track. My focus is on this program in its entirety, and if they want my services from a Super 14 point of view, but if those conditions can be worked out, there is an opportunity."

As for who he would like to get the vacant Australian coaching job, Mitchell kept his thoughts close to his chest, but certainly has enjoyed the candidates talking up their credentials.

"I donít think itís up to me to judge, the process will find the right person. Having been there before, itís not an easy gig," he said.

"It is quite interesting watching other coaches promoting what they have to offer, but they all face similar challenges and this game doesnít get any easier. Good luck to the person that does get selected."

As for the All Blacks job, Mitchell believes Deans is the ideal man for the job, but is far from certain if thatís the way New Zealand Rugby is thinking.

"Deansy would have a fair idea about what it entails. We have worked together before in that environment and he will naturally be going through a process, or he might not even get the chance to go through a process," he said.

"It could be done from within, but good luck to him. I think heís the best coach in New Zealand and New Zealand Rugby would be at a huge advantage if he does get selected."

Since the Super-14s season ended, Mitchell watched intently the inaugural season of the Mazda Australian Rugby Championship, particularly the Perth Spirit, while also taking in the World Cup in France as a fan.

"The Mazda ARC is a fantastic competition in terms of developing players, while also putting them in the front window for selection. Myself and my staff have been lucky to make some objective analysis on players playing at a reasonable level to see if they can go to the next level. Itís a very important phase of the playerís development towards Super-14s rugby," he said.

"With Australia being a big country, there is always going to be questions about its viability economically, but thatís no different in South Africa and New Zealand. Those competitions donít make a lot of money, but if we can maintain the Mazda ARC, itís going to give us greater benefits and buying power when we negotiate the new SANZAR deal as we have more product to offer."

As for the 2008 Super-14 season, Mitchell is looking forward to all clubs benefitting from the return of the international players and is certain the competition will go to another level.

"To think you can get away with what you did last year is irrelevant. Teams will get better you can guarantee that. One benefit we will have is that all the international players will be back earlier than previous campaigns," he said.

"We are very lucky that we have all our internationals back a lot earlier and they will have eight to 10 weeks of preparation, where they normally only have four. It will be a fantastic time for them as well to be with us before Christmas."