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Zinzan Brooke calls for Mitchell’s retention

Media Release – December 2, 2003

Zinzan Brooke calls for Mitchell’s retention

Former All Black Zinzan Brooke today backed the retention of John Mitchell as All Blacks’ coach as the selection process date approaches.

``It is important to keep things going without change.’ What New Zealand rugby needs now is stability,” Brooke said from London tonight.

He said it would be folly for the New Zealand Rugby Football Union to change the All Blacks coach again. John Hart resigned as All Blacks coach after the 1999 World Cup and Wayne Smith lost his job two years ago after 17 tests (12 wins, 5 losses) at the helm.

Brooke said for the sake of New Zealand rugby, Mitchell needed to be retained with his 82 percent record from 28 tests, rather than being judged on one game.

``This feeling of frustration in New Zealand is very much like a George Bush approach. We go in with all guns blazing, rip everything to pieces and ruin all the good that has been done. It’s a very reactive decision to what has happened.

``From a business point of view, on a long term basis, I think he has achieved good things. He has the results, apart from one game. I gave the All Blacks no chance 12 months ago.

``But we have won the Tri-Nations, the Bledisloe Cup and we got those two 50 pointers away from home – that’s never done before. He has done well in a short space of time. What we need to see now is confidence from the board.’’

Brooke said England had reaped the benefit of putting faith in a coach by retaining Clive Woodward after they bowed out of the 1999 World Cup in the quarterfinals.

``Clive Woodward is going to be the Alex Ferguson of rugby. We just need to hang fire rather than slam the guillotine down on someone. On the basis of what he has done, Mitchell’s overall results so far are second to none in the modern era.

``I just think it is prudent he carries on. There is no justification for sacking him. We didn't win the World Cup – you can only do so much as a coach – and neither did Australia.’’

Australia are not looking to remove their coach Eddie Jones, who has a 59 percent test success rate compared with John Mitchell and Robbie Deans on 82 percent.

Brooke said possible candidate Graham Henry was a good coach who had struggled at the end of his reign with Wales.

At the time, Eddie Butler wrote in the Observer that on his biggest stage Henry was ``out-analysed by Australia’s Rod Macqueen’’ and the Lions went down 2-1.

Ends

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