Latrell Mitchell act that cost him State of Origin recall as Michael Maguire 'meeting' revealed

The NSW coach went with a centre pairing of Stephen Crichton and Joseph Suaalii instead.

Michael Maguire reportedly held a meeting with Latrell Mitchell in recent weeks in which the NSW coach got the impression the South Sydney star was more focused on helping turn around the Rabbitohs than winning the State of Origin shield for the Blues. Mitchell was overlooked when Maguire announced a new-look NSW team on Sunday night, with Dylan Edwards at fullback and Stephen Crichton and Joseph Suaalii the centres.

Mitchell's only real hope of winning an Origin recall was to be picked in the centres, but Maguire went with Crichton and Suaalii instead along with Brian To'o and Zac Lomax on the wings. Reports emerged last month that Mitchell was considering making himself unavailable for State of Origin selection so he could focus on helping Souths get off the bottom of the NRL ladder.

Latrell Mitchell and Michael Maguire.
Latrell Mitchell was never really considering for NSW because Michael Maguire wasn't convinced he actually wanted to play. Image: Getty

It was only over the weekend that Mitchell confirmed he was available, but by that point it was too late and Maguire had already decided he wasn't picking him. Discussing the situation on Monday morning, leading journalist Phil Rothfield revealed how a meeting with Mitchell convinced Maguire not to pick him for the Blues.

Latrell Mitchell in action for NSW in State of Origin in 2021.
Latrell Mitchell last played State of Origin in 2021.


Rothfield also pointed out that Maguire seemed to pick his team with defence in mind, going with players who are hard workers rather than flashy. “I think that’s why Latrell Mitchell has missed out," Rothfield said on Sky Sports Radio.

“Latrell’s not a - and I don’t want to say work ethic - but he’s not a work rate player. The two boys Maguire has picked in the centres - Stephen Crichton and Joseph Suaalii - that’s their speciality. Their involvement in football games, the fact they’re always looking for the football, the fact they’re doing little extras.

"I had mail last week that he might have had a meeting with Madge and Madge walked away from that meeting with an opinion that he (Latrell) wasn’t overly obsessed about wearing the Blues jersey. He (Mitchell) was dreadfully concerned about the train-wreck season that is South Sydney and I think after they spoke, Madge was of the opinion he wants guys who aren’t concerned about club footy and want to do their best for the state.

“You’ve got to give Latrell and Jack Wighton some credit in that area because they both could have been picked in this side - Wighton in particular - if they were available. They’re hurting about the Souths situation and they want be there for Ben Hornby and the rest of their teammates to try and get Souths’ campaign back on the road, although I think it’s too late.” Wighton opted against backflipping on his rep retirement, but would have been a big chance of selection if he was available.

Michael Maguire during the Cronulla and Penrith game.
Michael Maguire was in attendance during the Cronulla and Penrith game.

Meanwhile, Maguire has revealed Nicho Hynes will be right to play despite suffering a calf complaint last weekend. Hynes didn't finish Cronulla's loss to the Panthers but was picked at halfback for the Blues regardless.

"He had a scan yesterday and it looked really good. There's no further damage and I think it actually looked better," Maguire told reporters on Monday. "I reckon he'll hit the ground running on day one. That's what we're working towards. We're really confident with where he's at.

"He's ready to go. I'm really super confident with how Nicho's been. Listening to the conversations of what he's had to face over his career and what he's learnt, I'm looking forward to how he comes into camp because he's a leader."