All Blacks’ Mitchell to coach Sharks

2009-08-05 00:00

FORMER All Black coach John Mitchell has taken over the Sharks this week ahead of their Currie Cup game against the Leopards in Bafokeng on Friday night.

Sharks head coach John Plumtree has returned home to New Zealand to attend his father’s 70th birthday celebrations and Mitchell, who travelled to South Africa to watch the Tri-Nations Tests, will take over this week.

Mitchell’s caretaker role was confirmed by Sharks assistant coach Grant Bashford yesterday.

“Mitch came out for the All Blacks Test matches, but he is a good mate of Plum’s and spent the weekend with us,” said Bashford.

“He did the jersey presentation to the Sharks players in Bloemfontein and after the Test on Saturday we asked him to stay around and help in Plum’s absence.

“I couldn’t think of anyone better to help, especially with our young front-row. He’s been fantastic and he certainly has the respect of the players.”

Bashford said Mitchell’s decision to stay was purely on a volunteer basis.

“He is the Western Force coach, but he said there was no Currie Cup rugby in Australia and he could only do without rugby for so long.”

Bashford said that Deon Carsten and Rory Kockott were unlikely to play on Friday night, but a fitness call on Jean Deysel and Odwa Ndungane would be made later in the week. Either Ros Cronje or Charl McLeod will take over from Kockott at scrumhalf.

The shoulder injury to Kockott would leave the Sharks without a goalkicker and Argentinian flyhalf Juan Martin Hernandez may start on Friday instead of playing off the bench as originally intended.

Kick-off is at 7 pm and the game will not be televised.

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