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25 Apr 2011 08:56
Fed-up Lions coach John Mitchell urged his team’s billionaire investors to take action if they plan to put an end to the losing culture at the union.
Mitchell was speaking after his team’s 34-30 loss to the Chiefs on Saturday and made it painstakingly clear he was not going to put up with the mediocrity of some of his players.
“I’m sick of making excuses,” he said.
“It is the same old errors turning up and some individuals are leaving me no choice looking forward to the future.”
The quick fix to the former All Black coach’s headaches would be for the team’s money-men to sign a few big-name players.
“It [losing] is a cultural issue here. It has been here for some time and clearly we are going to have to invest in the future of this organisation,” said Mitchell.
“The investors [Robert Gumede and Ivor Ichikowitz] are certainly going to have to put their money where their mouth is.”
The recruitment of at least three experienced players—preferable in the engine room—will complement the talent they have in their youth structures.
The Lions are relying on youngsters to compete at a level they are not quite ready for.
As far as the most valuable assets of the union—the players—are concerned, the new coaching structures are beginning to deliver results at lower levels.
With Mitchell at the helm, players also have no choice but to act more professionally than they have done in the past.
The team’s nine losses in the competition can be attributed to of a lack of players that will hold their own at Test level.
“There is a strategy in place and they [the investors] are going to have to deliver, because otherwise we are just going to be going through the same-old, same-old.”
“We have a very good critical mass here of good footballers that are probably experiencing their 10th or 11th cap and they are having to learn the hard way.”
Apart from long-serving stalwarts Wikus van Heerden, Andre Pretorius and flyhalf Butch James—who will only be joining the Lions during their second week on tour—the rest of the squad consists of players with very little or no international experience.
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