Mitchell bullish over survival chances

PA Sport
John Mitchell is confident he can keep Sale in the Aviva Premiership
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John Mitchell is confident he can keep Sale in the Aviva Premiership

John Mitchell has no doubt he has the ability to drag Sale Sharks away from relegation trouble.

The struggling Sharks have lured the former New Zealand coach back to the club as director of rugby in a bid to arrest their poor start to the season. The 48-year-old had a stint as player-coach at the club from 1996-98 and a spell on the England backroom staff before leading the All Blacks at the 2003 World Cup.

Mitchell said: "When I first came to Sale I was terribly inexperienced. I was chucked in at the deep end. That was my first real professional gig but it was also a fantastic apprenticeship to be able to do Sale, Wasps and England over a five-year period. It was a phenomenal experience. Since then I have been elsewhere in rugby world, internationally and provincially. I think I am well equipped to deal with the situation we have here."

Mitchell returns to the club after a controversial end to a successful stint in charge of the Golden Lions franchise in South Africa.

Mitchell was suspended by the club amid allegations of misconduct but cleared his name earlier this month and then negotiated a release from his contract.

He said: "I was found innocent on all allegations. I could have carried on there for another two years contractually but emotionally, because of the situation I was put through, unfairly in my view, it was time to move on.

"But I was very fortunate to win a Currie Cup for the first time in 61 years with them. Bringing them silverware was a special memory so I hold that very closely."

Mitchell was appointed to Sale's new four-man rugby strategy management board as part of a coaching restructure a month ago.

Yet with his legal wrangle with the Lions still ongoing, it was unclear what role he would take up with the Sharks until he arrived in the country this week.

He faces his first test in his new position as the Sharks take on Northampton at the Salford City Stadium on Friday.

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