Mitchell new Bulls boss

John Mitchell has been appointed as the Bulls executive of rugby.

The 53-year-old is the current head coach of the USA Eagles, and will be released from his contract after their World Cup qualifiers in June.

Current Bulls coach Nollis Marais will remain in charge of the Super Rugby team until the end of the tournament, and then coach the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup.

Mitchell will coach the Super Rugby team from next year.

The Bulls board also interviewed former Bok assistant coach Johann van Graan, son of Bulls CEO Barend, but opted for Mitchell, who had an 82% win record as coach of the All Blacks from 2001 to 2003.

'I enjoy challenges and this surely is a serious challenge, but one that excites me tremendously,' said Mitchell.

'I have coached against the Bulls and the Springboks many times before. They have a rich history of success, tradition and a legacy that surely surpasses most within SA rugby and perhaps even world rugby.

'I am well aware of the responsibilities that come with this job, but I am also excited about the opportunities and the talented players at the Bulls.'

Barend van Graan said Mitchell's appointed was the next step in the Bulls' turnaround strategy.

'The signing of a coach with the magnitude and experience of Mitchell is a massive coup for us, as his coaching credentials and achievements speak for themselves. I’m sure John will be able to add immensely in terms of our goals to win trophies and more importantly to help the continued development of our coaches and players.'

Mitchell coached the Golden Lions to the 2011 Currie Cup title, and while he was forced to leave the union in 2012 after several players complained about the way he treated them, he was cleared of all 28 charges and received a substantial payout from the Lions.

Mitchell was WP director of rugby Gert Smal's preferred choice to replace Allister Coetzee as Stormers coach in late 2015, but Smal was overruled by WP president Thelo Wakefield and the board, who opted for Robbie Fleck instead.

Mitchell then became head coach of the USA Eagles, who won the Americas Rugby Championship earlier this year.

ALSO READ: Mitchell the man to rebuild Bulls

Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

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Simon Borchardt