NRL fans were left puzzled to the absence of Latrell Mitchell at the Dally M awards on Thursday night with the Rabbitohs fullback winning the Ken Stephen medal for community work but not presenting a speech. Mitchell didn't enjoy the best end to the season having been suspended and missing the Rabbitohs' final game against the Roosters with the loss knocking them out of the top eight.
However, most players turn up for the Dally M awards to celebrate the individual achievements of the players throughout the NRL season. While coaches Wayne Bennet, Trent Robinson and Craig Bellamy opted to remain home, most players in contention for an award made an appearance.
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Except fans were baffled when Mitchell didn't attend to accept his Ken Stephen for all the hard work he put in for the community throughout the season. Even more so, there was no recording of an acceptance speech.
However, The Daily Telegraph has reported Mitchell did in fact send in a voice recording for an acceptance speech. Although, the file and format was wrong and it could not be used on the night.
Mitchell copped a two-game suspension at the end of the season and the 26-year-old admitted he was shattered he wouldn't be squaring off with the Roosters, whom he helped win back-to-back premierships in 2018 and 2019 before defecting to Souths. The Rabbitohs lost the game, which ended their season in 2023.
Kalyn Ponga in Dally M awards drama
Mitchell wasn't the only NRL player not originally attending the Dally M awards. Winner Kalyn Ponga revealed he sensationally declined the invite to the Dally M awards and wasn't even going the morning of the event. Ponga won his first Dally M award in stunning fashion having overtaken Shaun Johnson in the final round of voting to win by one point.
And the fullback gave a pretty startling explanation on his thoughts the morning of the event. "I wasn't going to go. I actually sent the NRL an email that morning saying I didn't want to go," Ponga said on Hughesy, Ed and Erin's 2DayFM radio show. "I just wanted to sit back and watch it at home. They then said I had to go."
He later revealed to the Channel Nine's Today show that he also wanted his mother at the awards as a thank you for being by his side throughout his journey. "I wasn't going to go yesterday, to be honest," Ponga said on Thursday morning.
"When I woke up in the morning I actually sent the NRL an email saying I didn't want to go. I just wanted to sit at home and watch it on the couch. But I had to last minute get ready, and my mum... she can get ready pretty quick."
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