Pretoria – A “change of mindset” is needed if the Bulls are to get back to winning ways, the franchise’s newly-appointed executive of rugby John Mitchell has said.
Mitchell, 53, was on Thursday unveiled as the new coach of the Bulls for the next Super Rugby season, while current incumbent Nollis Marais will remain as the Blue Bulls coach for the Currie Cup.
The New Zealander is no stranger when it comes to lending his expertise in South Africa, as he briefly coached the UKZN team in the 2013 Varsity Shield and most notably the Lions, helping them clinch their first Currie Cup title in 12 years in 2011.
His tenure at the Lions was hit with some controversy after he was suspended and then reinstated following allegations of mistreating players.
After spending two seasons at the Lions, Mitchell then lent his expertise to the Sale Sharks in England and earlier also coached the Western Force (2006-2010) and Chiefs (2000-2001).
“I’ve been in the country for seven years now and I call it home, I love the place,” Mitchell told reporters on Thursday.
Mitchell is currently the head coach of the USA national team, but will take over his role at the Bulls in July this year.
“Having been here as a coach with numerous teams, having good days and tough ones as well, where I come from in New Zealand, there are many similarities to here that I like,” said Mitchell.
He admits that although change needs to be implemented, all the Bulls need is a boost in confidence and a change of mindset.
“This is not a big change, this is about refreshing and updating our ways,” said Mitchell.
“It’s going to be hard work, but it’s going to be fun as well. It’s just a change of mindset, we just got to shove it up and become more confident. If you look at the lads, they just lack a bit of confidence. There’s always been huge talent at this union and it’s how we’re going to integrate that talent.
“We are not far away from that ingredient, but what we’ve got to do is make sure that people are open to intervention and changing their mindset.
“I feel I can bring a positive element of change, but one has to be careful as well, as ultimately at the end of the day, I’ve got a lot to learn,” said Mitchell.
“I will do a lot of listening and watching when I get involved in working with Nollis, and look to move the programme forward.”