John Mitchell. Photo: Chris Ricco, BackpagePix

PRETORIA – New Bulls boss John Mitchell has rubbished any talk of former All Blacks flyhalf Carlos Spencer joining the Bulls as an assistant coach, and instead it will be Mitchell who will be hands-on with the Currie Cup and Super Rugby teams.

Mitchell, who commenced his new job as executive rugby at the Bulls on Monday, said there is no truth to the rumours doing the rounds that Spencer would be joining him, along with former Lions strength and conditioning coach Wayne Taylor, and that he will be using the existing coaches within the Bulls system.

Both Spencer and Taylor worked with Mitchell during his stint with the Lions when they won the Currie Cup in 2011, but also left not long after Mitchell acrimoniously parted ways with the Johannesburg-based franchise.

“I think that’s a massive rumour. Carlos is contracted in Japan, and I think that rumour should be squashed,” Mitchell said after conducting his first training session at Loftus Versfeld on Monday.

“Clearly and obviously we’ve had a relationship before and he’s a bloody good coach, but at this moment in time, we’ll just stick with what we have. 

“Obviously I am operational, but I also have a responsibility as well to mentor and develop coaches. I haven’t seen Tails (Taylor) in a long time, I think he is stuck in New Zealand as well. There are about five strength and conditioning coaches already here (at Loftus).”

Unlike directors of rugby at other Super Rugby franchises, Mitchell will be directly involved in the coaching of the Bulls Super Rugby and Currie Cup teams, and has already committed himself to being assistant coach to Nollis Marais in the upcoming domestic season as an attack and backline coach.

In his previous head-coaching role at the USA Eagles – whom Mitchell guided to qualification to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan  he was not only head coach, but dabbled as an attack and backline coach in amalgamating his previous skills as forwards coach with England.

At the same time, the former All Blacks boss will be spending some time in assessing and evaluating the coaches at Loftus to see who will ultimately be his assistants in Super Rugby next year, with Marais likely to be forwards mentor after being relieved of his duties as head coach in the aftermath of the team’s dismal season this year.

“We’ve had some time thinking on the restructuring so we will spend a bit more time, we are not there yet. I’m sure that won’t be far away in being announced. Ideally in Currie Cup, we would like to create the alignment immediately to Super Rugby with the coaching group. 

“A lot of the personnel is here. It’s just about identifying the competency and making sure people are relevant and up to date in some areas, and making sure the competency are in the right positions. I will take a major role in attack, and will have an overview on all aspects of play. 

“Ultimately I enjoy coaching attack, and have been doing it for USA as well. It’s not often seeing guys with a forwards background taking the backline as well, but it is something I enjoy.

“In the last 18 months, I have been taking both backline and attack, so I will stay in that role,” said Mitchell.


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