Cipriani: Mitchell has 'no regrets'

Mon, 24 Dec 2012 14:15
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Sale Sharks' controversial new mentor John Mitchell has defended his decision to axe England flyhalf Danny Cipriani last week.

Sale Sharks' controversial new mentor, former All Black coach John Mitchell, has defended his decision to axe England flyhalf last week.

Just months after his prolonged disciplinary hearing at the Golden Lions in Johannesburg, in which he was told to clean up his man-management act, Mitchell has again publicly blasted players.

Mitchell singled out Sharks poster boy Danny Cipriani, whom he dropped from the match-day squad for bottom-of-the-table Sale's Premiership match at Wasps at the weekend - a game Sale lost 18-25.

The Sharks grabbed a losing bonus point at the death, with a Jonny Leota try and Rob Miller conversion, but Mitchell felt they may well have won the game if the Sharks' kicks at goal had been successful.

While the Sharks were not without character, mistakes at crucial times and some poor kicking cost them dear.

At 11-22 down, they laid siege to the Wasps line, but could not find a way through and then when the impressive Vernon broke, Mark Jennings fumbled his inside ball.

Miller, on kicking duties with Cipriani dropped, also missed a simple kick with a few minutes to go, but he showed his character to convert Leota's try and take the Sharks to within striking distance of London Irish, five points adrift.

Mitchell was adamant he had no regrets about leaving Cipriani out.

"Not at all, Danny knows the situation and what's going on and he knows that there needs to be an improvement in performance," said Mitchell.

"He was not the only player to receive bad news, so if he improves his defence he will come back into contention.

"Nick Macleod came in and performed well. He's had a bit of a back injury recently which we've had to manage but his performance was pleasing.

"We certainly presented ourselves without opportunities to win the game, but the kicking at crucial times wasn't executed as well as it could have been."

Mitchell took some positives from the game, despite seeing his side suffer a 10th defeat in 11 Premiership matches this season.

"We showed good character to get the bonus point at the end though - which could be very important and it means that we're getting closer to London Irish," he said.

"They are just in front of us and not a long way off so we have our destiny and we have to deal with what's in front of us." the controversial coach added.

However, Mitchell was not totally happy with aspects of Sale's performance.

"We left nine points out there with missed kicks, there was a soft breach in our defence for their try and their kicking game was better than ours with our 9-10 and 15 letting us down there as their execution wasn't good enough," said Mitchell.

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Team P W D L Pts
Saracens 22 17 1 4 80
Exeter Chiefs 22 15 0 7 74
Wasps 22 15 0 7 72
Leicester Tigers 22 14 0 8 65
Northampton Saints 22 12 0 10 60
Sale Sharks 22 11 2 9 58
Harlequins 22 10 1 11 55
Gloucester 22 10 1 11 49
Bath 22 9 0 13 48
Worcester Warriors 22 7 0 15 35
Newcastle Falcons 22 5 1 16 27
London Irish 22 4 0 18 20