Mitchell envious of White's success
The irony that former Springbok coach Jake White has already achieved more success with the Brumbies than he had with the Lions, has not been lost on current coach John Mitchell -- even more so now that the two sides meet this Friday in their Vodacom Super Rugby outing at Coca-Cola Park.
The Brumbies top the Australian conference at the moment while Mitchell struggles in a job where White failed, and let go because there wasn’t an appetite for doing things the right way.
Still, Mitchell can counter with the fact he won a Currie Cup where White’s Winning Ways didn’t, but it all comes down to success in Super Rugby when these two sides will meet.
The New Zealand coach, however, didn’t hide his admiration for White’s team and the way they play -- simply as they are in a similar situation as a side bereft of big name stars who have gotten down to work for each other and have found the fruits of their success because of it.
With the Lions still struggling to put together two good performances after another, Mitchell is still struggling to get the same sort of camaraderie out of the team that was such a tight unit last year in the domestic competition although, to be fair, injuries have placed an undue burden on a team whose depth isn’t close to any one of its South African rivals at the moment.
“They’ve got a lot of energy, and they play with a lot of heart,” Mitchell said of the Brumbies, “Clearly they have got very few reputations and that impresses me. They are a bunch of guys who play for each other. That’s something we haven’t achieved this year yet, and that’s up to us to try and achieve over what’s left of the competition, starting this week.”
Other than injuries, Mitchell has once again repeated his mantra of patience with the current group, something he hopes will pay off in the long run.
“We’re suffering because we have a few players playing Super Rugby who shouldn’t be playing Super Rugby. Unfortunately it’s all about winning and the Lions hasn’t been a place of patience in recent times and now there is no other option but to be patient,” Mitchell said.
One area where a lot of work has been going on in the past few weeks is the continuing problems in the setpiece, with the Lions lineout a constant source of woe for the team.
“The core issue in the whole competition has been the non-delivery of a lineout, and the throwers have to take a lot of responsibility for that," Mitchell said. "That's their job, and it's had a knock-on effect on the rest of the team.
"Clearly we like attacking, we just had the inability to get through a lot of attack as a result of a poor lineout. We've had to come from a lot more chaos than normal."
Lionel Mapoe replaces James Kamana on left wing, while Hendrik Roodt comes in for the injured Stephan Greeff.
"Clearly James Kamana has suffered because of his last performance," Mitchell added. "Michael Killian comes in after becoming fit again and we've put Jacobie (Adriaanse) back because he got back after he became match fit after the Vodacom Cup and we've got a new lock-loose forward Grant Hattingh, who we got from the Western Cape.
"The timing for Lionel is right. He wasn't that sharp in his first two performances but bear in mind he didn't have a full 80 minutes and he's looking a lot sharper."