Lions coach receives trauma counselling after attack

2010-10-11 14:19

Former New Zealand rugby coach John Mitchell received trauma counselling after being stabbed by burglars in his Johannesburg home but said he was “trying not to dwell” on the incident.

The former All Blacks player, who now coaches the Johannesburg-based Lions team, said the counselling “was very beneficial” but he needs to “move on” after the attack in the apartment he shared with fellow New Zealander Wayne Taylor.

The 46-year-old Mitchell was stabbed twice, in the arm and leg, after two intruders broke in on Saturday night.

“I’m not feeling great, obviously, but my injuries are not too bad and I just thank God that they missed the artery in my leg when they stabbed me,” Mitchell said after returning to work with the Lions today.

“This was a very unfortunate incident, and I wouldn’t wish it on any other person to be held hostage and woken in that manner by having an intruder in your room, feeling both your and your friends’ lives are in danger.”

The Lions said Mitchell was taken to hospital, where he received stitches to the two wounds. He was released on Sunday and received trauma counselling later that evening.

“I’m trying to not dwell too much on what has happened. I need to find closure now and move on with my life. I went for some trauma counselling which was very beneficial, and I now have a process to work through by myself.”

The worst part

Mitchell said he feared for the life of Taylor, his flatmate and Lions conditioning coach, during the attack at their apartment in the city’s wealthy Hyde Park suburb.

“Possibly the worst part of the incident was not knowing if Tails (Wayne Taylor) was OK, or if he was even alive.”

Mitchell said: “Tails managed to climb out the window and call the police for help. This was the best thing he could have done, and I commend his decision to escape the apartment as he did not know if they were armed.”

Mitchell added he would not let the attack deter his passion for the Lions. He signed a three-year contract to coach the team in September after leaving Australia where he was in charge of Perth’s Western Force Super Rugby team.

He coached the All Blacks from 2001 to 2003 and is also a former assistant coach with England’s national team.

“I am still very committed to the Lions. This (South Africa) is a beautiful country and I consider myself fortunate to have the opportunity to work here but I need to make sure that I am totally secure in where I live, as it is not at all nice waking up and having to defend your life.”

Mitchell did criticise the security at the apartment complex, saying it was “insufficient.” He said the security company “has a lot to answer for with what happened to us.”

On Sunday, Lions president Kevin de Klerk said the team had moved Mitchell and Taylor to new accommodation.

“We have rallied around both John and Wayne during this terrible time,” De Klerk said.

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