Former All Blacks coach Mitchell joins Bulls

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Former All Blacks coach John Mitchell was appointed executive of rugby at Bulls as the Super Rugby team continue their "turnaround strategy".

Mitchell, 53, led New Zealand to third at the 2003 Rugby World Cup, having won the Tri-Nations in the same year as well as in 2002.

Bulls have embarked on a strategy to improve results on and off the field after a poor run this season.

"I enjoy challenges and this surely is a serious challenge, but one that excites me tremendously," said Mitchell, who will leave his post as United States coach and begin the role in July.

"I have coached against the Vodacom Bulls and the Springboks many times before.

"They have a rich history of success, tradition and a legacy that surely surpasses most within SA Rugby and perhaps even world rugby.

"I am well aware of the responsibilities that come with this job, but I am also excited about the opportunities and the talented players at the Vodacom Bulls."

Bulls are second in the Africa 1 Conference but a long way behind leaders Stormers after just three wins from 11 games.

Chief executive Barend van Graan talked up the appointment of Mitchell, with current coach Nollis Marais to remain in charge of Bulls in the Currie Cup.

"I said from the start that this would be a thorough process," he said.

"We looked at options both internally and externally, and had various other discussions and forums to ensure we would identify the correct candidates.

"The signing of a coach with the magnitude and experience of Mitchell is a massive coup for us, as his coaching credentials and achievements speak for themselves.

"I'm sure John will be able to add immensely in terms of our goals to win trophies and more importantly to help the continued development of our coaches and players."