Mitchell is putting his ego aside

Wed, 22 Jan 2014 12:48
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John Mitchell says that it is time to put his ego aside as he starts a new chapter of his coaching career with UKZN in the Varsity Shield.

John Mitchell says that it is time to put his ego aside as he starts a new chapter of his coaching career with UKZN in the Varsity Shield.

The former All Blacks coach has settled in Durban and told that although it is a significant step down from jobs he has held in the past, the decision to take the position was an easy one.

Since parting ways with the Golden Lions Mitchell has worked as a television analyst, but decided to take up the position with UKZN as it gives him a chance to put something back into the community.

"I have been living in Durban now since June 2012, and my wife is from there as well.

"I was with Supersport and took the opportunity to put something back into the community on my own back doorstep.

"At the end of the day you have got to put your ego aside, and ultimately we coach because we want to serve young men in terms of teaching them and inspiring them to become winners in life," he said.

He has assembled an impressive coaching team in KwaZulu-Natal which features former Springbok playmaker Butch James and some prominent local school coaches as they look to challenge for a place in the Varsity Cup next year.

"Butch James is one of three assistants I have got. I have got Ryno Combrinck from Michaelhouse and Ryan Strudwick from Maritzburg College, so we have got a good balance between Maritzburg and Durban.

"We have got forward experience, line-out experience, scrum experience and obviously we have got Butch as well with his wealth of knowledge  having just come out of the game. It is vital that the youngsters can draw from him," he said.

UKZN have battled to make a big impression in their three years in the Varsity Shield, but Mitchell is confident that they can take their game to the next level as he looks to make a clean break with the past this year.

"Our aim as an organisation and as a team is that we want to play in the Varsity Cup. It is a good year because there is promotion/relegation as well.

"Whether we achieve that goal this year who knows, it will depend on how well we come together as a team," he said.

He admitted that he has not followed the team's fortunes in the past, but emphasised the fact that this season will be a new beginning, starting on Monday with their match against defending champions CUT in Bloemfontein.

"I haven't watched them [UKZN] at all so the past means nothing to me. It is all about sticking to the formulas that I have used in my past and making sure we have got enough depth.

"Our biggest challenge will be becoming a team and teamwork, so once we achieve that we will be fine. We have got enough talent, the challenge is to become a collective," he said.