Western Force rejects claims against Mitchell



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RugbyWA and the Emirates Western Force are outraged at a report which appeared in a Sydney newspaper today, suggesting Emirates Western Force head coach John Mitchell could undermine Australia‘s Rugby World Cup campaign.

RugbyWA chairman Geoff Stooke stated that the report could not have been further from the truth, and that John Mitchell was fully committed to Australian rugby as well as the Emirates Western Force.

‘Any suggestion that he would do anything to undermine Australia‘s World Cup efforts is wrong and baseless,’ Stooke said.

‘Since his appointment, Mitchell has demonstrated outstanding professionalism, and to question his integrity is particularly offensive.’

The report suggested that if Mitchell did not play Matt Giteau at scrumhalf, rather than his Test position of inside centre, he would not be acting in the national interest.

It also included the fanciful suggestion that this was payback for the All Blacks losing the 2003 World Cup semi-final to Australia.

Stooke said Giteau was recruited to fill the 12 position for the Emirates Western Force, the position in which he is the incumbent in the Wallaby team.

‘And on this basis, it would seem appropriate for him to play in this position in the Super 14 competition. In addition, the incumbent Wallaby scrumhalf is the Wallaby captain, George Gregan,’ he said.

‘Importantly, it should also be noted that Giteau’s preferred position is number 12 and he is making every effort to continue in this position in the Wallaby line-up.’

The report was also critical of Mitchell’s Kiwi heritage, and suggested it was a mistake to employ a New Zealander as coach of an Australian provincial team.

‘Mitchell’s Kiwi heritage is not a concern for us and we are surprised the issue has been raised, particularly given that many of our current Wallabies have Kiwi and Islander roots. No one questions their commitment to the Wallabies and nor should Mitchell’s be in question because of his heritage,’ Stooke said.

Stooke emphasized that Mitchell had the full support of the Board and Management of RugbyWA and the Emirates Western Force, both in his role as head coach and in supporting the efforts of Australian rugby.

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