Lions coach John Mitchell is back with the Lions after a four-month absence and wants to lay foundations for the team to "move forward".
The controversial Kiwi coach claims to have learned a lot in his time away from the Johannesburg franchise and is looking forward to working with a new group of players as they plan for a year outside of Super Rugby.
Many of the Lions' top players have signed loan deals with Super Rugby franchises for 2013, and others have parted ways with the franchise on a more permanent basis so the player pool has changed considerably since Mitchell's suspension.
"I am excited about being back at the Lions and learnt a lot during the time I was away. I am looking forward to working with the many new faces in the team and I am sure they will bring a lot of energy to our set-up," he said.
Mitchell said that his biggest challenge at the moment is getting up to speed with stand-in coach Johan Ackermann, who took control of the team in his absence and led them to a home Currie Cup semifinal, and planning the best route forward as they focus their efforts on getting their Super Rugby status back.
"Coach Ackermann and the management did a superb job and, at the moment, I am returning to consult with them, make future plans and understand their previous execution," said Mitchell.
The Lions boss said that whilst returning to Super Rugby is a priority, he is also intent on developing some solid structures which will hold them in good stead in the long-term.
"Our main goal is to secure re-entry into the Super Rugby competition but we have two other objectives - team development and a strong performance in next year's Currie Cup.
"In order to move forward you must look forward and we are in the process of laying down the foundations we need in order to achieve our objectives," he said.
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