Andrew Johns has blasted the reports suggesting Latrell Mitchell should move to the centres for the Rabbitohs following the club's horror 2023 season. The Rabbitohs made unwanted history this year following an all-time capitulation.
The side were sitting top of the table after round 11, however, their loss to the Roosters in the final game of the season meant they missed out on finishing in the top eight. Not since 1992 - and prior to the league adopting a top-eight finals system - has a team gone from top of the ladder in round 11 or later to miss out on the finals.
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And one player that has come under scrutiny is Mitchell. The fullback suffered a calf injury ahead of State of Origin, which ruled him out of the series and a number of weeks beyond.
His return didn't go to plan as the Rabbitohs failed to stop their slide down the ladder with the fullback ending his season early with a suspension. The Rabbitohs have come under siege in recent weeks with Sam Burgess leaving the club, while reports emerged questioning if coach Jason Demetriou was giving Mitchell and Cody Walker special treatment.
While Demetriou denied these accusations, further reports emerged that the club was looking to move Mitchell back to the centres next year. However, NRL legend Johns has blasted the idea and said moving him to centres after a poor run is not the answer.
"Talk of Latrell Mitchell moving from fullback is the biggest load of rubbish I've heard," he wrote for The Sydney Morning Herald. "It's ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. The team is there.
"They don't need to make wholesale changes. They just need to make alterations." Johns went on to say the Rabbitohs need to work on their mentality to get back to where they were earlier in the season.
Latrell Mitchell's proposed move to centre
The 26-year-old plays in the centre role for both NSW and Australia and also won two premierships with the Roosters in the position. Former Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett successfully helped transform Mitchell into one of the most damaging fullbacks in the game, but concerns have emerged that he doesn't do the 'extra' work the game's top fullbacks all get through.
Mitchell also averaged 25 games per season during his four-year stint at the Roosters, but has only averaged 16 per season at the Rabbitohs, with many suggesting the added workload of playing fullback is contributing to his injury record. With Jack Wighton joining the Rabbitohs from Canberra next season, there has been talk the versatile Raiders veteran could play at No.1 for the Bunnies, despite being under the impression he's moved to South Sydney to play in the centres.
Regardless, Wighton dismissed talks of the turmoil at the Rabbitohs and wasn't buying into the drama ahead of 2024. "I'm not there and I won't comment on anything there. For now, I don't believe anything is going on there," he told AAP. "It is what it is, people move on and changes are made ... but who knows the actual truth, not you or me.
"I'll take it in my stride when I make that move and get to that stage but for now I'm just concentrating on the Raiders."
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