4 Sep 2010

Mitchell leaves the Force to take charge at the Lions

6:20 am on 4 September 2010

The former All Blacks coach John Mitchell has been released from the final year of his contract with Australia's Perth-based Western Force franchise to take charge of the Johannesburg-based Lions in next year's inaugural Super 15 tournament.

Mitchell, who coached New Zealand to seven successive wins over the Springboks, including a 29-9 drubbing in the 2003 World Cup quarter-final, has signed a three-year deal.

The Force have appointed Wallabies assistant coach Richard Graham to replace him.

Mitchell's the second former All Blacks coach to take over at the Lions, after Laurie Mains steered the team to the 2000 and 2001 Super 12 semi-finals.