Mitchell mentoring young Wallabies

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies winger Drew Mitchell has been using a long injury layoff to help the side’s younger generation, in the lead up to one of rugby’s toughest assignments.

Mitchell had groin surgery almost three months ago, ending his Top 14 season but said he was confident of a Bledisloe return ahead of Sydney’s August 20 opener.

“All things going well, I want to be on the selection table and if it's me running out there and playing then that would be great,” he said.

“If it's not then my role will be to try and help with the guys that are playing.”

It's been a hard slog at training. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyWhile he has been involved in most training sessions this week, the former Force and Reds winger made himself useful when he was on the sidelines.

“For the younger guys, it’s to help with anything they might not have experienced before and that's a big reason as to why a few of us are coming back from France as well,” he said.

“It's not just the on-field stuff but it's also to try and help with the experiences that we've had to try and help ease the nerves and give a little bit of clarity on some of the guys that haven't been in this positions before.”

Mitchell said he simply tried to give advice wherever he could ahead of what will be the biggest Test many of the debutants have played in.

“It’s just having that dialogue with the boys - talking about maybe how I've dealt with things in the past and maybe how I didn't deal with things in the past as well.

“They're not going to take everything that I've learned - it's not all going to sink in but at least if they get some of that information, it really resonates with them then that's great.”

Currently receiving French government support due to his injury, Mitchell still has to finalise details of his Wallabies return with French club, Toulon.

Once that happens, the next challenge will be figuring out his availability for the third Bledisloe Test, on October 22, that falls outside the Regulation Nine window that gives Test teams priority access to players.

“Mine's a little bit different to the other guys being under the work accident leave and that'll change in the next few days,” he said.

“I still need to have some dialogue with them about the next couple of games before I worry about the third.”

Drew Mitchell wants to help the Wallabies on and off the field. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyMitchell and other veterans Adam Ashley-Cooper and Matt Giteau took objection to a column by Spiro Zavos earlier this week, that suggested their return was at the expense of younger potential Wallabies.

The 31-year-old winger said none of the trio would be back in Australia if Wallabies coach Michael Cheika didn’t believe they had earned a spot.

“The points he raised were pretty invalid and at the end of the day if we didn't deserve to be here then I don't think Cheik would just be doing us a favour and bringing us back,” he said.

Mitchell has one year left on his contract with Toulon, with an option for a second, and said he was considering a return to Australian rugby.

“This is home for me and it's just a matter of whether I'll come back here to play or come back here to get back in the real world,” he said.