Claims Latrell Mitchell has 'infiltrated Souths' as NRL club urged to make massive call

The Rabbitohs produced a more committed effort against Cronulla - with Mitchell watching on from the sidelines.

Calls are growing louder for South Sydney to move Latrell Mitchell from fullback to centre after the Rabbitohs showed way more effort and attitude in their loss to Cronulla last weekend. Mitchell missed the game against the Sharks as he serves a three-game suspension, which was opened the door for 20-year-old Jye Gray to stake his claim on the No.1 jersey.

Gray had 15 runs for 172 metres against Cronulla, breaking seven tackles and producing an off-load. The 20-year-old popped up everywhere and didn't look out of place in the NRL, sparking calls for the Rabbitohs to finally bite the bullet and move Mitchell back to centre.

Latrell Mitchell, pictured here alongside South Sydney teammates.
The Rabbitohs produced a much-improved performance in the first game of Latrell Mitchell's suspension. Image: AAP/Getty

Mitchell became a superstar at the Roosters when he was playing in the centres, before moving to Souths and becoming a fullback. But the 26-year-old doesn't seem to put in the same effort and appear in the right place at the right time as often as the game's elite fullbacks do.

“What was really interesting was that they saw effort,” leading journalist Paul Kent said on NRL 360 on Monday night. “What they’ve rewarded Jason Demetriou with over the weekend is for the first time in six rounds we’ve seen effort out of the Souths...real effort.

“Even though they didn’t win the game, we saw effort throughout the game. What’s telling is who wasn’t there when they played. And that’s the question that they won’t go near either. Because you saw blokes get their chance and they went and had a crack.”

Rabbitohs players, pictured here during their clash with the Sharks.
Rabbitohs players look on during their clash with the Sharks.


South Sydney's improved effort without Latrell Mitchell

When asked if he was referring to the fact Mitchell didn't play, Kent said: “Well, him, he’s part of it and they don’t want to admit that his attitude has infiltrated the team. It has just filtered right through it.

“And then finally, a young kid in there gets out and has a go. The other players don’t have the burden of having Latrell in there, who they’ve not been happy with, but no one wants to admit to that.

“And so the first time the team’s had a go, first time all season, they’ve had a crack. Are they going to be honest though, South Sydney? If South Sydney are fair dinkum, when Latrell finally comes back, he comes back in the centre, and that Jye Gray stays at fullback the way it’s going. Because Latrell is a lifetime centre. He’s not the fullback.

Latrell Mitchell, pictured here during South Sydney's loss to Cronulla.
Latrell Mitchell looks on during South Sydney's loss to Cronulla.

“They’ve waited three, four years or more for Latrell to turn into the fullback. And then when he didn’t become the fullback, they said, you know what, he’s not that sort of fullback. Well, you know what, today’s game he has to be. You just have to be that sort of fullback.

“You cannot be an eight-run-a-game fullback in the modern game. You can’t be standing under the post when the opposition score it over in the corner, in the modern game. Fullbacks are completely different players than they were 15 years ago.”

Will Latrell Mitchell move to centre for good of the Rabbitohs?

Fellow journalist Phil Rothfield said it should be an easy call for Souths to make. “When Latrell first joined Souths, he could pick and choose where he wanted to play, because he came with that aura,” Rothfield said. “And when he walked into the sheds, he said, 'look, I’m a fullback, that’s why I’ve come here'.

“But Latrell has lost that sway he’s held in the place. And it’ll be a very easy decision for Jason Demetriou now to say, 'look, this boy is going so good that you are playing centre. Full stop, no argument'.”

But Kent suggested there would be pressure from Souths heirarchy to keep Mitchell at fullback because he's their highest-paid player. Rothfield responded bluntly: “It’ll be an easy decision."