John Mitchell is in line to become the Stormers’ next coach after the departure of Eddie Jones.
The former All Blacks coach is the front-runner to take up the post, as he meets the criteria the Stormers are looking for with extensive Vodacom Super Rugby and international coaching experience.
The Stormers are also keen to appoint a ‘foreign’ coach who will bring fresh ideas to the Cape, and someone who has an understanding of South African rugby.
Mitchell is certainly well known in South African rugby circles, having previously coached the Lions for two years, while he has worked around the country as a coaching consultant and also enjoyed a brief spell as coach of the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Varsity Shield side, the Impi.
Although the finer details of Mitchell’s deal with the Stormers still need to finalised, such as when he would be able to step into the role, his appointment would appear to be a fait accompli.
Last Friday, WP director of rugby Gert Smal said no comment on the matter would be made until the new coach had put pen to paper, but he did provide insight into what they would be looking for when appointing a successor.
‘I still want an international coach because it stimulates the system, for both coaches and players, but it needs to be the right person … It needs to be someone who understands the Stormers' culture, the way we want to play and the dynamics of South African rugby,’ Smal said.
Earlier this year, Mitchell was approached about taking up the Stormers job, but said at the time that the offer didn’t ‘turn his head’, with just a short-term deal put on the table.
However, with the Stormers having received a ‘transfer fee’ after Jones’s departure to England, and considering the urgency to appoint a new coach ahead of the 2016 season, it’s understandable that they’ve intensified their efforts to nail down a preferred candidate.
Mitchell is currently the chief executive of a Pietermaritzburg-based packaging company, Egli, but recently expressed an interest in coaching the Stormers if a viable offer came his way.
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images