What about former All Blacks coach John Mitchell he should be involved with Boks

THE last 15 minutes or so of every Super Rugby game involving New Zealand teams playing Australian and South African teams is like watching Ground Hog Day, the Hollywood movie where every day is the same.

Consider last weekend when Kiwi teams ran in tries with abandon in the last minutes of matches when South African defences were flagging. It happened to the Stormers against the Hurricanes, to the Cheetahs against the Highlanders and the Bulls against the Crusaders (discounting the Bulls’ two against-the-run of play tries at the end of their game).

It happens every weekend and it happens every season, and of course, it happens on the international stage where the All Blacks soak up pressure for much of the game, a bit like a cat toying with a mouse, and then destroy the opposition.

Remember those great games at Ellis Park when the Boks under Heyneke Meyer traded blow for blow and try for try with the All Blacks only to sink without trace in the last ten minutes?

It is not rocket science and if our teams want to close the gap on their old rivals they have to replicate how they train.

And it is easier for that to happen than we think. Former All Black coach John Mitchell has made studying New Zealand training techniques a science. He spent time in his old homeland catching up on the latest systems in the game before he took up a position as head coach of the US Eagles.

The Americans immediately benefitted and have been dominating rugby in the competitions in which they participate.

John Mitchell lives in Durban. He has done since 2009 . He has made South Africa his home and he has made no secret of the fact that he wants to get involved in rugby at the highest level in this country.

Mitchell is not without his flaws. We know that the human resources departments were busy places at the Western Force (the team Mitchell got off the ground in Perth) and at the Lions (where he won a Currie Cup).

While nobody has ever quibbled with the Waikato man’s rugby knowledge, he has ruffled feathers by being a touch over-zealous in communicating with players. He has a history of calling a spade a spade. He takes no prisoners, does not suffer fools gladly and some players have not enjoyed his communication style, hence the player revolts.

But that was some time ago and those who know Mitchell well in Durban will tell you that he has been working in business for some years and has learned to handle staff differently.

But back to Mitchell and the systems that he has learned in New Zealand and which could be of great use in South Africa

.In essence it is all about training with greater intensity. In South Africa players scrum at about 60 percent of capacity, in New Zealand they do it at 80 percent. The same goes for lineout drills, breakdown work, and so on.

They train with greater urgency in New Zealand. They don’t stop for a bit of chit chat between drills. They get stuck in and train as they play. Sessions can be shorter but are carried out at full tilt.

Mitchell is contracted to the Eagles but he no doubt has an out clause. The World Cup in Japan is just over two years away and South African rugby is in a mess, particularly at Springbok level. Is it going to be sorted out this year? What are the chances of us needing a new coach before too long …?

Are there any world class coaches currently uncontracted?

Mitchell is a touch task master who likes winning rugby games and is not in the sport to win prizes for good fellowship, although, he has apparently calmed down on his man management skills.

He got the chop from the All Blacks for losing just one game – the semi-final against the Wallabies at Rugby World Cup 2003.

He lives on our doorstep and has the techniques and knowledge to improve the performances of our teams, notably the Springboks. It would be crazy if Mitchell does not get involved with the Springboks sooner rather than later.

By Mike Greenaway

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