By announcing his departure from coaching the Western Force ‘at the end of the 2011 season’ John Mitchell is effectively a dead man walking.
I wonder where he’ll celebrate New Years’ Eve this year? You can bet your bottom dollar it won’t be at the Western Force.
If you think otherwise you’re living in Fantasyland.
For the life of me, how on earth can he remain with this team as a lame duck coach for another 12 months or more?
After such a disappointing season (it ain’t going to get too much better) they’ll want a new broom. Out with the old and in with the new. New coach, new ideas, some new players and a positive outlook for the new season.
Has he been pushed? Maybe there are some clues by the way it was announced, or maybe not? It’s like he was getting in first before the WA Board made the decision.
Notwithstanding this announcement I suspect that he’d be going anyway, probably not on his terms.
He’s an experienced coach and you’d expect a plum job will arrive in the post from the Northern Hemisphere or thereabouts. It all sounds a bit ‘Eddie Jonesish’ doesn’t it?
He was probably the right guy to sign for an inaugural Super 14 side. A hard nosed ‘my way or the highway’ type of character.
The ructions of last season with his coaching style were warning signs that he’d outlived his usefulness.
Now in his fifth year at the Force, his team has only once finished in the top half of the ladder (7th, 2007). Something for Rod McQueen to ponder perhaps.
This week, the unfortunate injury toll has been extended to include hooker Ryan Tyrrell who had a top game last Saturday, and Sam Wykes.
The Force team announced today is more or less last weeks’ outfit with winger Nick Cummins the only selection casualty. Mitch Inman comes off the bench to take his place.
Unfortunately, both Brett Sheehan and Scott Staniforth are under an injury cloud and will have to pass a fitness test to make the game.
Ben Whittaker gets his first start for Tyrrell and Tom Hockings for Wykes. Pek Cowan is back and on the bench, as is Haig Sare.
The new boy is 18 year old Ted Postal who was running around for the Nudgee College First XV last year.
While coaching staff have had to again juggle positions in the squad Mitchell said he was looking forward to tackling the Bulls and continuing to build on the positives that came out of the club’s performance against the Waratahs last Saturday.
“The boys got a real feeling of what it is like to put doubt and pressure into the opposition” Mitchell said.
“What we have to make sure is that we finish that off and convert that feeling and that pressure we’ve put on our opposition.”
Top playing bottom. Really, this can only go one way. Prove me wrong, but unless the Bulls are in serious holiday mode it’s going to get very ugly indeed especially if more players cry off with injury.
The Force forwards have come close to matching most of the other packs so far this year (apart from the Reds) but this Bulls’ side is something else. Think Victor, Pierre, Gurthrö, Gary, Danie and Derick on the bench. And then there’s Mornè….
For the Bulls, Jaco Pretorius is back at outside centre replacing Stephan Dippenaar and resuming a very profitable midfield combination with fellow Springbok Wynand Olivier in the only change to the side that beat the Hurricanes last weekend.
Fourie du Preez will be fit to start after injury worries early in the week.
Saturday’s matchup against the Bulls will be full of anxiety and maybe just a little bit of terror. It’ll be hard to backup from last week’s excellent performance but they’re going to have to if they want to maintain a respectable scoreline.
Lance says “Bulls by 24”.
15. Mark Bartholomeusz 14. Scott Staniforth 13. Ryan Cross 12. James O’Connor 11. Mitch Inman 10. David Hill 9. Brett Sheehan 8. Richard Stanford 7. Matt Hodgson 6. Ben McCalman 5. Nathan Sharpe 4. Tom Hockings 3. Tim Fairbrother 2. Ben Whittaker 1. Nic Henderson
Reserves: 16. Pek Cowan 17. Kieran Longbottom 18. Ted Postal 19. Luke Jones 20. Chris O’Young 21. Sam Harris 22. Haig Sare
Unavailable for selection: David Pocock (finger), Richard Brown (shoulder), Cameron Shepherd (thigh), Andre Pretorius (hamstring), Matt Dunning (concussion), Ryan Tyrrell (neck), Sam Wykes (thigh), Dane Haylett-Petty (ankle), Joelin Rapana (hand), Jono Jenkins (ankle)
15. Zane Kirchner 14. Gerhard van den Heever 13. Jaco Pretorius 12. Wynand Olivier 11. Francois Hougaard 10. Mornè Steyn 9. Fourie du Preez 8. Pierre Spies 7. Dewald Potgieter 6. Deon Stegmann 5. Victor Matfield 4. Danie Rossouw 3. Werner Kruger 2. Gary Botha 1. Gurthrö Steenkamp
Reserves: 16. Bandise Maku 17. Bees Roux 18. Flip van der Merwe 19. Derick Kuün 20. Jacques-Louis Potgieter 21. Jaco van der Westhuyzen 22. Pedrie Wannenburg