Mitchell makes Sharks return

PA Sport
John Mitchell has returned to Sale
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John Mitchell has returned to Sale

Former New Zealand coach John Mitchell has returned to Sale to answer an "SOS" from the struggling Aviva Premiership club.

The 48-year-old was appointed to the Sharks' rugby strategy management board as part of a coaching restructure last month after doing some work for the club as a consultant. At that time Mitchell was still head coach at South African side Golden Lions, where he had been suspended on misconduct charges.

He was subsequently cleared and then resigned from his position, freeing him up to take up his post with Sale, where he served as a player-coach in the late 1990s. Sale have not confirmed what title Mitchell will take but he will join chief executive Steve Diamond, head coach Bryan Redpath and businessman Ian Blackhurst on the strategy management board.

He flew back into Manchester on Tuesday and took a coaching session on Wednesday morning.

The Sharks are hoping his influence will help them pull clear of relegation trouble, having been cast five points adrift at the bottom with one win from nine games.

Mitchell said: "Dimes (Diamond) sort of gave me an SOS call to see what was happening.

"At that particular time I was in suspension and had to go through a process. I'm thrilled to have got through that process to be found innocent of all allegations.

"The next thing was to be reinstated in my position and then, at that point, I mutually agreed with the Golden Lions that they have moved on and emotionally I have moved on. That's what I had to get done. It's taken a lot longer than I would have hoped.

"It's been six months and five days of a hearing, so it's been an arduous process but I had to get everything cleared so that I could move on. My reputation is still very much intact and also my brand."

Sale announced sweeping changes to their structure on October 31, with rugby director Redpath moved to a new position. Since then former Sale hooker Diamond has taken a more hands-on role in the coaching department while awaiting Mitchell's arrival.

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