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coach John Mitchell: I Was Generic in Handling Personalities


Cape Town – England defence coach John Mitchell says he has matured as a coach over the years.

The New Zealander is back in the England camp 18 years after his first stint as the team’s forwards coach.

Since, then Mitchell has coached teams like the Chiefs, All Blacks, Western Force, Lions, Sale Sharks, USA Eagles and the Bulls.

Not all of his previous jobs have ended in amicable fashion and he admitted as much in an interview with England Rugby’s official website in Portugal this week.

England held a training camp there in preparation for this Saturday’s Test against the Springboks at Twickenham.

“Twenty years ago I certainly fell into the trap of being generic in the way I handled personalities. I’d be the first to acknowledge that I could have done things differently,” Mitchell admitted.

“I wouldn’t say I’m now relaxed about everything but you don’t last if you don’t evolve and you don’t learn. It would have been nice to have the tools I have now back then but life isn’t like that.”

Mitchell now has the task of plugging an England defence which leaked nine tries in three Tests against South Africa in June.

Factor in the change in tackle law, which has led to red cards across Europe as players struggle to adapt to an interpretation introduced mid-season, and the Kiwi has his work cut out.

“From a coaching and a playing point of view we have to acknowledge that we are going to have to change our behaviour in order to make the adjustment. I already have a couple of things in mind,” Mitchell said.

The England team will be named on Thursday, with Saturday’s Test scheduled for 17:00 (SA time).

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