8 Sep 2008

Force deny player rift

6:45 am on 8 September 2008

Rugby Western Australia has strongly denied there is a rift between senior Western Force players and coach John Mitchell after a New Zealand newspaper reported star flyhalf Matt Giteau and captain Nathan Sharpe were at war with the coach and on the brink of cutting ties with the club.

The Sunday News reported that Giteau was sick of Mitchell's ways and was weighing up a return to the Brumbies, while the article also suggested Sharpe was desperate to escape the former All Blacks coach.

The article quoted an unnamed source as saying "Giteau hates Mitchell" and that there was "quite an anti-Mitchell sentiment among some of the players, they're sick of him".

However, Rugby WA chief executive Greg Harris rejected claims of a player revolt.

He says they're surprised by the story and strongly dismisses the claims after speaking to John Mitchell and the two senior players named in the story.

Harris says the report appears quite mischievous and can be very damaging for the organisation and the individuals involved and has to be taken seriously, but they are completely satisfied that they have no such issue in their team.

Mitchell was sacked as All Blacks coach following his side's semi-final exit to Australia at the 2003 World Cup.