Former All Blacks coach John Mitchell stabbed in South Africa

FORMER All Blacks coach John Mitchell has been stabbed at his apartment in South Africa after mistaking an intruder for his practical-joking flatmate.

Mitchell was stabbed twice, once in the upper arm and once in the thigh, during a scuffle with the intruder in his Johannesburg home, New Zealand news website Stuff reported today.

A spokeswoman for Mitchell’s Super 15 rugby team the Lions, Krystle Geach, told Stuff that Mitchell had been at home with his flatmate and fellow coach Wayne Taylor when he heard a strange noise.

“Mitch heard someone coming into the room. He thought it was Wayne, because Wayne has quite a dry sense of humour, so he tackled the guy,” Ms Geach said.

“But it was an intruder, who stabbed him in the arm and the leg.”

Mitchell, 46,  was taken to hospital, but was released after having his wounds stitched up, Ms Geach said.

“He is otherwise ok, a little bit shocked but ok. He will be back at work tomorrow.”

However, Taylor was still feeling guilty that Mitchell thought he would sneak up on him, she said.

“He’s a little bit shocked too.”

Both men were placed in temporary accommodation while local police investigated the break-in at their Hyde Park apartment.

Mitchell’s mobile phone and laptop were stolen by the intruder.

The Kiwi had been contracted to coach the Johannesburg-based Lions in the Super 15 competition next year after spending four years coaching the Perth-based Western Force.

He was appointed All Blacks coach in 2001 and led to Tri-Nations titles in 2002 and 2003 as well as regaining the Bledisloe Cup off Australia in 2003.

He was fired after the All Blacks failed bid to win the Rugby World Cup in 2003 and replaced by Graham Henry.

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