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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 November, 2003, 09:15 GMT
Brooke defends Mitchell
All Blacks coach John Mitchell
Mitchell has been heavily criticised in New Zealand
All Black great Zinzan Brooke believes John Mitchell should stay as New Zealand coach, despite the team's World Cup exit.

Mitchell's future is now uncertain following New Zealand's 22-10 semi-final defeat against Australia last Saturday.

He has been strongly criticised in the New Zealand media since the loss and many expect his days as coach of the national team to be numbered.

But former All Black number eight Brooke told this website that sacking Mitchell would not solve the All Blacks' problems.

"I don't think there is any justification for sacking him," said Brooke.

"He wanted to win that match [against Australia] more than anyone and it was not just down to him that they didn't win.

"Australia got up for that game and wanted it more than us, but I don't think the [New Zealand] team should feel disgraced.

Mitchell has built a good team that plays intelligent, exciting rugby and he should be given more time with them
Zinzan Brooke

"All 15 members of the Australian team stood up to be counted on Saturday but I don't believe New Zealand did anything wrong, Australia just got it right."

And Brooke is adamant Mitchell should not be blamed for that failure.

"Mitchell has built a good team that plays intelligent, exciting rugby and he should be given more time with them.

"Sacking the coach or dropping players is not the answer, it's a gung-ho approach and what New Zealand needs now is stability."

But the passionate rugby-mad New Zealand public and media may have other ideas.

After New Zealand's shock semi-final defeat against France in the 1999 World Cup, coach John Hart was heavily criticised and even spat on and abused in the streets in New Zealand.

Brooke has words for the doubters at home too.

"It's easy to criticise but it doesn't help anyone," he added.

"The ironic thing is John Hart always said how important it was to speak to the media, and he got crucified by them. Mitchell has done the complete opposite and he can't win either.

"The media just needs to back off and let Mitchell get on with his job."

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