Mitchell leaves Force early
September 2, 2010
John Mitchell will not be seeing out the final year of his contract with Western Force © Getty Images
John Mitchell has parted company with Western Force after five seasons as head coach, thus allowing him to take charge of the Lions with immediate effect.
Mitchell is currently guiding the Golden Lions through their Currie Cup campaign but the former All Blacks boss had been scheduled to return to Australia to lead the Force in next year's Super 15.
However, it was announced on Thursday that the Kiwi coach will not see out the final year of his contract with the Perth-based franchise, with Richard Graham being installed as Mitchell's successor.
Mitchell commented: "We started from scratch in 2005 which was an enormous challenge for everyone associated with the club. Like any organisation, you have your highs and lows, but I believe we can all look back and count a number of significant achievements, among them producing a healthy list of Wallabies, defeating all other Super Rugby franchises in the club's short history, and, importantly, beating the other three Australian Super Rugby teams during the 2009 season.
"Looking ahead, I believe Richard Graham is extremely well qualified to take the reins of a Super 15 team."
RugbyWA chairman Geoff Stooke was quick to pay tribute to Mitchell's achievements during his time with the franchise.
"John Mitchell worked passionately and diligently in setting up the Emirates Western Force rugby programme from the ground up. John was one of the key catalysts in achieving our objectives of growing rugby in Western Australia and growing Wallabies, achievements that cannot be underestimated," he said.
"He departs with our best wishes and appreciation for his efforts over the past six years. John can feel very proud of the work he has done here."