Mitch accepts Stormers’ decision

John Mitchell says he understands the reasoning behind the Stormers’ appointment of Robbie Fleck as head coach, writes CRAIG LEWIS.

Mitchell was widely regarded as the likely candidate to take on the Stormers’ top job after the unexpected departure of Eddie Jones, but on Saturday it was confirmed that Fleck will hold the coaching reins for at least the next season.

‘I was obviously in communication with the Stormers and [WP director of rugby] Gert [Smal], and I was really grateful for that,’ Mitchell told ‘I do understand the process and their thinking around the position, and they’ve made a decision that is good for them going forward.’

After the departure of Jones, Mitchell was understandably one of the top candidates the Stormers considered, with the former All Blacks, Force and Lions coach boasting vast experience at various levels of the game.

Smal had also previously stated that he was keen to employ a ‘foreign’ coach who would stimulate the system and bring in new and different ideas. It's believed that Smal was keen to appoint Mitchell, but that this view was not shared by other members of the Stormers' upper hierarchy, while some players reportedly also expressed reservations.

‘During our discussions it was really just about understanding their plans and processes, and how I might fit into that,’ Mitchell explained. ‘It was a very thorough process and I appreciated being considered for the role.’

With Fleck set to be assisted by the likes of Paul Treu, John Dobson, Dawie Snyman and Russell Winter, Mitchell said he believed the Stormers certainly had the necessary personnel in place to be successful in Super Rugby.

‘They’ve got some very good people there and a strong coaching team. I understand that it would also have been important for the players and everyone to know as soon as possible who would be fulfilling the coaching role for next season.’

Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

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Craig Lewis