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John Mitchell has no plans to succeed Eddie Jones as England boss

Mitchell will oversee the defence until the conclusion of next year’s World Cup.

Eddie Jones is under contract until the Rugby World Cup (Owen Humphreys/PA)
Eddie Jones is under contract until the Rugby World Cup (Owen Humphreys/PA)

John Mitchell is comfortable acting as Eddie Jones’ number two after rejecting the prospect of eventually succeeding his new boss as England head coach.

Mitchell will oversee the defence until the conclusion of next year’s World Cup after being recruited as Paul Gustard’s replacement in a total package costing Twickenham in the region of £500,000.

The former All Blacks chief has amassed 24 years of tracksuit experience, including three working beneath Sir Clive Woodward from 1997-2000. Virtually ever since his time with England, he has only ever served as a head coach.

Jones has signed a two-year contract extension that expires in 2021 – subject to performance at the World Cup – but Mitchell has distanced himself from the possibility of filling any vacancy created by his long-term friend.

“People will speculate but that’s not even on my mind. I have a job to do and I’ll do it the best I can,” Mitchell said.

“I’m really looking forward to getting into it, which has already started. I’m on a one-year contract and I will fulfil that the best I can.

“Whatever happens after that, I will decide, but there is certainly no talk or ambition around that situation. I’ve just got to deal with what’s in front of me now.”

John Mitchell chats with Kyle Sinckler during the training session (Ben Birchall/PA)

Mitchell, who represented New Zealand but was never capped by the All Blacks, is seen an unforgiving disciplinarian with a fiery nature, but the 54-year-old laughs off the reputation.

“It’s funny the perception you create and I sometimes laugh at the perception,” Mitchell said.

“For some reason that’s the perception and some people see that as the reality, and it’s not.

“I don’t sweat the small things, I fully enjoy what I do and I’m very at peace with what I do.”

Jones and Mitchell were adversaries at the 2003 World Cup, the former in his role as Wallabies head coach, and they have stayed in touch since, showing each other “empathy during difficult times, in sickness”.

The two met during England’s June tour to South Africa and Mitchell agreed to join the management team, leaving the Rugby Football Union to negotiate his release from the year left on his Blue Bulls contract.

“Coaching England was special back then and it’s special now. It’s nice to come back with more maturity and miles on the tyres,” Mitchell said.

John Mitchell has history with the England team (David Kendall/PA)

“I’m indebted to English rugby because my first five years coaching were in this country. It is like going to school for the first time.”

England’s three-day training camp in Bristol – the last before the squad gathers to step up preparations for the autumn series – has been beset by injuries.

Joe Launchbury, Chris Ashton and Billy Vunipola were unable to train because of hamstring injuries, while Manu Tuilagi and Ben Youngs did not attend due to respective hamstring and ankle problems.

Press Association


From Belfast Telegraph