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Blues officials disappointed for Latrell

NRL Rd 18 -  Cowboys v Sea Eagles
Tom Trbojevic is one of the leading candidates to replace Latrell Mitchell for the State of Origin decider. Picture: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

Blues team performance manager Frank Ponissi says he’s “disappointed” for Latrell Mitchell after the strike centre was ruled out of the State of Origin decider, but he insists “nothing will change” for NSW in game three with several strong candidates ready to fill the void at Suncorp Stadium.

Mitchell was outstanding in the thumping win at the MCG and has been the main reason why the Rabbitohs have turned their season around, but he won’t be there to torment the Maroons after scans revealed he suffered a serious foot injury during Thursday’s win over Parramatta.

It’s a cruel blow for Mitchell who hadn’t represented the Blues since 2021 because of injuries but made an immediate impact with a try and an assist in Melbourne.

State of Origin
Latrell Mitchell was unstoppable for the Blues in game two. Picture: Michael Klein

Blues coach Michael Maguire does have options with Tom Trbojevic making a successful return from injury for Manly on Saturday, while Bradman Best is in terrific form and Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii is available after he was sent off and suspended for a high shot in the series opener.

Ponissi didn’t have much time on Saturday to process everything given he was at Leichhardt Oval watching the Storm defeat the Tigers before he spent the next hour following Trbojevic’s performance in Townsville on his phone.

“It happened so quickly this afternoon (Saturday) and then I had to get ready for the (Storm) game so I’ve only had a brief chat with Madge,” Ponissi told the NewsWire.

“He was still getting his head around it as well because we didn’t know about it until today.

“Madge just wants to sit on it and then make a decision on it on Sunday, so at this stage there’s no clear favourite.”

Trbojevic was solid without being spectacular after his first game in two months, and he’s ready to answer the call if Maguire picks him for the decider.

NRL Rd 18 -  Cowboys v Sea Eagles
Tom Trbojevic is back in the mix for Origin after returning from a hamstring injury. Picture: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

“I haven’t thought about it,” Trbojevic said on Fox League.

“It is awesome to be back playing footy. If he does call me I’ll put my hand up.

“It was nice to get back out there. It was a bit different (playing centre). It’s good to have a different challenge. I’m excited by the new challenge. I will only get better from here.”

The Maroons had no answers for Mitchell who excelled on the left edge, but Ponissi says the Blues will also miss what he did for the team off the field in the lead up to game two.

“I’m disappointed for him because I think he worked so hard to get himself back,” he said.

“I’m also disappointed for the team (because we miss) not only what he does on the field – we all saw that – but his presence through the whole week was tremendous so he’s going to be missed from that point of view.

“The feeling within the camp is still strong, so while we’re disappointed to lose him, it’s all systems go for Brisbane.

“Nothing really changes until we know who’ll be in his place.

“We would’ve loved to have had Latrell, but now we don’t. The feeling in the group is strong, so while it’s disappointing, nothing changes for the team going forward.”