JOHANNESBURG - The writing is on the wall that Bulls executive for rugby and Super Rugby head coach John Mitchell will be joining England as their defence coach and the players and management at Loftus Versfeld have already prepared for life without their inspirational mentor.
Reports coming out of London suggest that Mitchell will start working with the England team from next month with the only hold up on his departure from the capital being the settlement amount between the Rugby Football Union and the Blue Bulls Company.
While the RFU allegedly offered the BBC less than a R1million to release Mitchell from his contract which expires at the end of October next year, it is Mitchell’s current employers that are seeking a compensation of between R5-6 million.
Mitchell is set to report for duty at Loftus Versfeld on Wednesday where he is expected to say his goodbyes to his management and players after only spending a year in Pretoria. The imminent departure of the former All Blacks coach, Mitchell, comes on the back of him having requested a big money budget from the BBC’s Board of directors in order to lure big names like Springbok loose forward Duane Vermeulen and other internationals.
However, the board of directors have dragged their feet in acceding to Mitchell’s demands including having total control over the Bulls structures and in the process many of the players that had been on Mitchell’s radar have either extended their stays at their current franchises or opted to move abroad.
As the reality of Mitchell’s departure dawns on all at Loftus, Blue Bulls head coach Pote Human has made no secret that a successful Currie Cup campaign could put him in the pound seat to take over the reins of the Super Rugby outfit. While Human downplayed the possibility of being the next in line to take over from Mitchell, the former Free State loose forward admitted that he harboured ambitions of coaching at Super Rugby level.
The BBCo would like to confirm that John Mitchell informed us that interest was shown in his services, no formal offer has however been received. The BBCo would furthermore like to confirm that John Mitchell’s contract with the BB Co expires on the 31 October 2019. pic.twitter.com/Agma8BySQN
“First I want to focus on the Currie Cup, what comes after that is a bonus. For sure everyone wants to coach a Super Rugby side but I first want to win the Currie Cup and then they (Blue Bulls Company) can say whether this guy is good enough or not good enough,” said Human, who was Mitchell’s assistant coach in charge of the forwards in Super Rugby.
As much as Human is his own man and will be taking charge of the Bulls Currie Cup side for the third time, he does though believe that Mitchell’s blueprint for the way in which they should train and play is the brand of rugby that will bring success again to Loftus.
“He put some great structures in place for us and we are just going to carry on with that. For us we are here to do a job and we want to do well in the Currie Cup. The players also want to perform and put up their hands for selection in Super Rugby next year. So we have a job to do and we are going to do the best that we can,” Human said.
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“We’ve taken his blueprint and tweaked here and there to work with the players that I have got. I don’t have players like RG Snyman and Lood de Jager so I have tweaked it a little bit but stay on the same basics in the new way that he wants to play and train. I will stick to that because I think that’s working and the way to go forward.”
The Bulls will open their domestic account with a trip to Bloemfontein on Friday to face the Cheetahs.