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Mitchell denies insider knowledge will undermine England's World Cup

By Chris Jones
(Photo by Paul Harding/Getty Images)

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John Mitchell, who has become Japan’s defence, does not believe his inside knowledge of England will give Jamie Joseph’s Brave Blossoms a significant advantage when the teams meet in the 2023 Rugby World pool match in France.


Mitchell was the England defence coach when they reached the 2019 Rugby World Cup final where they lost to South Africa. Eddie Jones had added Mitchell, the former All Blacks head coach, to the England set up in 2018 but the former back row forward opted to quit and join Wasps as attack coach in July.

Now, Mitchell is back on the international scene and is playing down the significance of his comprehensive knowledge of the England players and their defensive systems and said: “Japan will be facing England in the World Cup but players change and so do systems. It is something I didn’t think about when the chance to work with Japan arose and I was thinking more about the positives of coaching a new team.

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“Japanese rugby is growing and they have a real enthusiasm to get better. I don’t think me having been with England has any advantages for Japan because England will be a different team by the time they get to next year’s World Cup and will be even better prepared.”

Mitchell, whose international cricket playing son Daryl has just signed an IPL contract with the Rajasthan Royals, is adamant his commitment to Wasps is unaffected by his new role with Japan and revealed that Lee Blackett, the club’s head coach, had been aware of the Japan offer from the start of this season.

Mitchell said: “When I joined Wasps the opportunity to work with Japan became a possibility and I spoke to Lee who has been fantastic throughout this and I really appreciate the chance to work at what will be my fourth Rugby World Cup. Jamie has a great team of coaches working with Japan and I will be looking after the defence and my attack role at Wasps has allowed me to look at the way different teams are playing. You could say that Japan and Wasps have the same commitment to attack and until I link up with Japan for the summer tests my focus will be here at Wasps.”


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