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How a snub by England assistant Mitchell gave birth to Brock James' stellar French club career

By Online Editors
It was rejection by John Mitchell that spurred Brock James into leaving for France... and the rest is history

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Brock James has spoken about how rejection by current England defence coach John Mitchell sparked his stellar career in the French Top 14.

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It was Mitchell who unceremoniously cut loose the Australian talisman from the Western Force way back in 2006, forcing the out-half to take his chances elsewhere.

Fourteen years later, he is still going strong as a player at the age of 38 at La Rochelle after a long stint at title-winning Clermont was followed by a first taste of coaching at Bordeaux. 

Asked by Midi Olympique, the bi-weekly French newspaper, if he had any regrets about never becoming a Test player for Australia, James said: “No, for me it’s simple, I left Australia quite young because I couldn’t even find a job in Super Rugby. 

“John Mitchell (the Western Force coach at the time) told me that I was the fifth No10 in the hierarchy and that I would not even play in friendlies. So I looked for something else. I wanted to challenge myself and I had the opportunity to come to France. Small stops in my career have always moved me forward so I have no regrets.”

(Continue reading below…)

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James has since gone on to move within reach of becoming the all-time record scorer in France. With 3,003 points on the clock since his arrival in France, he is just short of the record of Romain Teulet (3,007).

However, the clock is finally winding down on the career, James admitting this will definitely be his last season as a player after he was tempted into joining La Rochelle by Jono Gibbes and giving it one final lash. 

“This is the last year to get the most out of it, and as soon as I’m on the field I will try to do my job and have as much fun as possible,” he said. “From the moment I accepted, I knew it was my last. You can’t play forever, even if you want to. It’s a good way to end. 

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“I have spent two great years at La Rochelle, a club that I love in a region that I love. My family are well-settled, so the project proposed by Jono was interesting as the last challenge,” he continued, hoping for an emotional send-off as his current’s club final regulation season fixture will be against his old team, Clermont. 

“I imagine there will be a lot of emotions. I just hope I’ll be on the sheet match. That would be wonderful.”

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