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 two intruders in his Johannesburg home on Sunday night.
A spokeswoman for Mitchell's Lions rugby team, 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,'' Geach said.
''But it was an intruder."
A second intruder then stabbed Mitchell in the arm and the leg, she said.
The intruders then tied Mitchell up and ransacked the apartment.
Taylor climbed out the window and down the drainpipe to alert police.
Geach said Mitchell was taken to hospital, but has now been released after having his wounds stiched up.
''He is otherwise ok, a little bit shocked but ok. He will be back at work tomorrow.''
Taylor, however, was feeling guilty that Mitchell thought he would sneak up on him, Geast said.
''He's a little bit shocked too.''
Both men were now in temporary accommodation, while police investigated the break-in at their Hyde Park apartment.
Mitchell's cellphone and laptop were stolen by the intruder.
Warrant officer Moses Maphakela from Johannesburg police told NZPA the intruders had gone into the apartment through the kitchen window.
"They went to the room of John Mitchell. They demanded money. They tied his hands and feet with a rope."
Taylor, who had been sleeping in the other room, managed to escape through a bathroom window, and called police.
Mr Maphakela said the men walked away with two laptop computers, cellphones, an iPod, a digital camera and cash.
"We recovered the two laptops and the digital camera outside the house."
Mr Maphakela said police were still looking for suspects.
Mitchell has been contracted to coach the Johannesburg-based team the 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 two 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.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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