Mitchell’s powers restricted as Giteau settles down with the Force


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Former New Zealand All Blacks coach John Mitchell has been placed on restricted duties with the Force as a judge looks into allegations from players and other coaches about his conduct.

Rugby WA, which runs the Super 14’s Western Force team, said in a statement Wednesday that it had asked retired judge Robert Anderson to “undertake certain inquiries of players, coaching staff and management.”

The Perth-based Force said Anderson will look into “certain assertions which have been raised with Rugby WA (including from players and coaching staff).”

Speculation in local media over the past month has suggested the 44-year-old Mitchell’s straight-talking approach has alienated players.

Mitchell, who has been in charge of the Force since their first season in 2006, is one year into a four-year extended deal.

Mitchell was All Blacks coach from 2001 to 2003, but was not rehired after New Zealand’s disappointing performance at the 2003 World Cup, where it lost to Australia in the semifinals.

“While Mr. Anderson is undertaking his inquiries, Mr. Mitchell will remain the head coach of the Western Force but some restrictions have been placed on his activities as head coach in the short term,” the Rugby WA statement read.

“These will not interfere with the club’s preparation for the 2009 Super 14 season.” Western Force officials did not specify the nature of the restrictions on Wednesday.

Mitchell earlier this week conceded his methods could need changing.

“I have always had an honest and open relationship with the players, and nothing will change,” he said.

“Having said that, as a head coach you have always got to look to evolve, and I am always looking to evolve.

“I am contracted until June 2011, and I am totally committed to that contract – I will be meeting my obligations.”

On a much more positive note Matt Giteau now seems to be highly likely to play out his Force contract in 2009.

He had wanted to get out of his Force contract after his Firepower sponsorship deal fell through, but it now seems to be most likely that he will stay with the Force in 2009 and then move back to the Brumbies for the 2010 season.

Giteau has an ARU contract which will keep him in Australia until the 2011 World Cup and he is expected to stay in Canberra with the Brumbies until that time.

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