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John Mitchell to coach WA Super 14 side

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RUGBY WA has today appointed John Mitchell as Head Coach of the new Perth-based Super 14 team.

Announcing the appointment, Rugby WA Chairman Geoff Stooke said Mitchell was one of the world’s best rugby coaches who would provide the new team with the best possible start in the Tooheys New Super 14 Competition.

He said Mitchell had been appointed after an international search that had yielded a high class field of outstanding candidates.

‘Rugby WA is delighted to have secured a head coach of John Mitchell’s track record, pedigree and demonstrated commitment to all levels of rugby ‘ from grassroots to national teams,’ said Mr Stooke.

‘He was the unanimous choice of the selection panel and, with his proven track record at international and provincial level, we believe he will do an exceptional job for Australian rugby and WA rugby.’

Mitchell will take up his appointment on 14 March when he will commence work with CEO Peter O’Meara building a squad of players in preparation for entry to the Tooheys New Super 14 Competition in the 2006 season.

He will move to Perth with his wife Kay, son Daryl (13) and daughter Ciara (10).

Mr Stooke said Mitchell had been appointed under a three year contract.

Mitchell said he was absolutely thrilled to be appointed Head Coach of the new Perth-based team.

‘This is a wonderful opportunity to be part of something truly significant in Australian and world rugby,’ he said.

‘My intention is to select and prepare a side that is competitive in Super 14 from the beginning and to maximise the opportunities for players aspiring for Wallaby selection.

‘It may take Perth some time to win the Super 14 competition but I can guarantee the competitive behaviour of my players from day one and the growth of the pool of young players in WA with the ability to play at an elite level.

‘The optimum mix of players will include some current Wallabies, some experienced Australian players now overseas and up-and-coming players who are coming through the ARU development ranks.

‘I have been very impressed with the professionalism with which Rugby WA has conducted the recruitment process and I intend to repay their faith with a side of which rugby supporters in Western Australian can feel very proud.’

Mitchell said he was particularly looking forward to playing a key role in the development of community rugby throughout WA, an area to which he has devoted considerable time in recent years.

‘We have a dual role with this team, which is to create a development channel for elite level players who will play for the Wallabies and to build a competitive Super 14 side and,’ he said.

‘In the medium and long-term, those players will be predominantly West Australian kids who excel at this great game. The development of those players starts right now.’

Mr Stooke thanked the Waikato Rugby Union in New Zealand which released Mitchell from an existing contract to take up the role in Perth.

He also thanked members of the selection panel for their work. The panel included former Wallabies great Phil Kearns, WA Department of Sport & Recreation Director General Ron Alexander, CEO Peter O’Meara and officials from Rugby WA.

Mr Stooke said he was very appreciative of the outstanding support and input from the Australian Rugby Union through the selection process and the ARU’s wholehearted support for the choice of Head Coach.

‘We used a wide-ranging set of criteria in the selection process, which was especially important given this is a start-up team,’ he said.

‘We need strong, forceful individuals who will make this side successful on and off the field. In John Mitchell and new CEO Peter O’Meara we have two such people who, we believe, will become exceptional figures in the West Australian community.’

Mitchell said he looked forward to immersing himself in WA rugby and in building strong relationships with everyone with an interest in rugby in WA, from the members and corporate supporters to the players and coaches throughout the state who will provide the feedstock for the side into the future.

He said Rugby WA expected to announce its first major signing for the team within the next two weeks.

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