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Mitchell Follows the RH Plan
Mitchell Follows the RH Plan
(Rugbyheads exclusive)

Due the lifting of the NZRU embargo, RugbyHeads are pleased to make public for the first time the following report: All Blacks Preparation for World Cup 2003.


It was commissioned at the start of John Mitchell's reign as ABs coach to "work out how the hell he is supposed to get the ABs out of the sh*t if Wayne Smith couldn't!"


Admittedly we couldn't immediately see a way of Johnny-boy escaping a first season lynching, especially after the fairly pathetic efforts of every New Zealand team except the mighty Crusaders.


But then, during the post-match euphoria of the Waratahs massacre at the the hands of the mighty Crusaders,  we hit on a radical but very simple plan.


Admittedly it was a long shot, but we thought that it was worth a go - and anyway, it's not like Mitch had a choice!


In retrospect we shouldn't have had any doubt, no matter how you look at it our plan has been an outstanding success!


So here it is; revealed at last, the RugbyHeads plan for World Cup 2003.


All Blacks Preparation for Rugby World Cup 2003

RugbyHeads Consulting Incorporated Pty. Ltd.

A division of Black Toddadder International



Mate... you are in the deep-end of a pool warmed by 250 pre-schoolers (and we don't mean perspiration). But if you follow our cunning plan you should be well placed for a tilt at the Web Ellis Trophy!


Step one - Tri-Nations 2002:

You have been saying for the last few months that you will be selecting based on form. The main problem is the form for most of the New Zealand S12 teams is reminiscent of one used at the local morgue.


But we aren't suggesting that you save your sorry arse by pandering to the sensibilities of the whole nation by trying to find some decent players from each union.


No mate, we think you should stick to your guns. Of course this is easy for us to say, very easy, but we think that you should still pick on form…


…pick the whole Crusaders run on team as the basis of your ABs squad!


Of course there are a couple of players who you can add in there from other unions... a winger or two and maybe there are a couple of forward reserves and impact players. We will leave that up to you.


We know that some of those regional union reps are big nasty bastards, who might catch you in a dark corner of the Eden Park members' bar, so you’d best have a few selections in reserve to fend them off, one forward and one back from the Blues should be enough to do that.


Picking the captain is a total no-brainer. The man that lead the unbeaten Crusade, and took over from one of the greatest captain's NZ rugby has ever known, just picks himself for the top job. It's also bound to cause some controversy which is always a good way to distract from the fact that you have 15 Crusaders in the squad.


Of course you will have to justify these selections, and the picking on form thing will only go so far. Bring out the old "strength in established combinations" and "best defence in the S12". This should keep them thinking just long enough for you to get out to the taxi.


It has the added advantage of telling the absolute truth (be strong mate, you can do it) as well as being confusing and distracting. But let’s face it, the average sports journo is too busy scooping up a story to care what it smells of!


And at least you know that the Talk-backs will be talking about you… oh and the ABs!


Step two - NPC 2002:

You think the ordinary punters will be pissed off by your AB selections? Well everybody except Cantabrians, in other words, no one that important.


The important ones that will be pissed off are all the other top rugby players who didn't make the AB squad.


You probably think this sounds like a bad thing! This just proves why you are supplying us with all that Monteiths - ‘cause thinking strategically doesn't come naturally to you. Maybe those years with the English team weren't that useful after all eh?


But thankfully we are on the case - what these miffed NPC players will be thinking is that if they ever want to wear a Black jumper with a nifty little silver fern: they had better get their mother busy knitting... or play out of their skins.


Of course there is a real risk that the Cantabs will be too worn out after playing continuously since Feb, and may not quite make the final of the NPC. Sounds painful I know, but we think if that's the price we have to pay for a strong All Blacks team for the future, then the rest of the country are happy for us to pay it! (And anyway we will still be basking in the glory of our boys winning the Super 12 and Tri-Nations).


All going well by the end of the NPC ‘02 lots of players will be busting their guts to show their goods.


Step three - End of season ABs tour of Europe:

Come on Johnny, do we have to spell it out? Ok, sorry... it's a figure of speech, which means - "Say it in short words that you can understand?"


OK, in words of two syllables or less - if all the Canter-bury players are shagged, while most of the other players are playing well, then you can trot out the "selecting on form" line again and choose a good end-of-year ABs team from all around the country!


We'd advise that you probably should give your Red 'n Black workhorses a bit of a break at this stage, so if the form argument doesn't make sense for them then just say that they have to recover from some injuries, an obscure bit of surgery is always a good one, god knows they will have a niggle or two after all that footie so it won't be completely untrue.


Of course that doesn't mean you need to avoid Canterbury guys altogether, I'm sure you can find a few that didn't get to wear black earlier in the year, young Benny Blair or big Bad Brad Thorn look good in Black. Anyway, pick lots of raw, or at least young, talent. And leave out some of the obvious guys, just to give them a chance to think that they will really have to perform in Super 12 come 2003, to make the World Cup team.


We know that you are sneaky enough to do this mate; in fact we think that you may be a little too sneaky. Anyway, you must let your selections imply what we suggest, even if you can't bring yourself to clearly say what you mean.


(In fact we believe that if you did clearly say what you mean the NZRU might mistake you for Wayne Smith and sack you on the spot! Best that you play to your strengths, using our strategy.)


Of course the results of a team with only a few Cantabs will be mixed. You had better prepare a few "developing combinations" / "young team gaining experience" throw away lines for the news conferences.


But really it doesn't matter too much, as if we under perform we will just lull those pasty pommies into a false sense of security.


Who cares what the Welsh and French do. Even if they win, it isn't like they can carry the same form into next year!


Effects on Super 12 2003:

Of course you can't do much to directly influence S12 ‘03, but the results of following our plan should see a somewhat better result from more of the New Zealand teams. We wouldn't be at all surprised if we end up with at least 3 teams in the semi-finals, and by resting the key Crusaders at the end of '02 you should at least have the core of your AB team from last year to fall back on if it all turns to custard.


You do your bit, and even the Hurricanes might have a year to remember, but don't put any money on your beloved Chiefs just yet, we know our Rugby but we can't perform miracles mate!


2003 Internationals & Tri-nations:

This is a good chance for you to really work havoc. But remember no matter how many players and/or teams you pick, you should have most of the best players in the country playing their hearts (sorry, we know that we shouldn’t mention that word) out to be in the All Blacks.


What more could you ask for?


If any journo's ask you any curly questions about anything referred to in this report just stare off into the distance and waffle on about being on a "journey" and "focusing on the destination", they'll get bored of that pretty quick and go back to asking you easy questions again, like why big Reuben is your captain.



Stick with us kid and you will go places as All Blacks coach! Ignore our advice and you will still go places, but you better run!


Note on the other 187 pages – We padded this report out a tad, as you do, by including a print out of DH's rants from the past few seasons, most of them are vaguely about rugby so if someone should bother to skim read them then they shouldn't notice. Send the whole report to the guys at the NZRU if they ask for a copy. Except if you think that it will distract them from their Rugby World Cup 2003 Co-hosting negotiations.


Let us know what you think!

Bloody hell lads you could have given me some warning to hire a team of telephonists, the phone will be ringing off the hook with coaches all over the world wanting this sort of in depth analysis done for their teams!

I doubt we can fob them all off with a quick copy and paste as easily as we did that Eddie Jones character...

Supposedly this article has been viewed times since we bothered to start counting*.
(Although it could have just been on the Reload button doing some serious ego padding!)