Latrell Mitchell captured in startling new footage amid fresh calls for switch at Souths

The fullback took a breather on the wing as the Cowboys scored in the opposite corner.

Questions are being asked about how much longer South Sydney can persist with Latrell Mitchell at fullback after his involvement was way down last weekend against the Cowboys. Mitchell scored a barnstorming try and threw the final pass for two others, but apart from that he was rather lacklustre.

The fullback only ran for 70 metres as the Rabbitohs went down 28-22 to leave them on the bottom of the NRL ladder with one win from 10 games. Mitchell has now played two games since returning from suspension, and managed to hold onto the No.1 jersey because Jye Gray suffered an untimely injury.

All indications pointed to Souths shifting Mitchell to centre to accomodate Gray, who was much more involved and committed at fullback than Latrell has been this year. But with Gray out injured, interim coach Ben Hornby had little choice but to keep Mitchell in his preferred position at the back.

Latrell Mitchell, pictured here taking a breather on the wing.
Latrell Mitchell took a breather on the wing at a pivotal moment in the Rabbitohs' loss to the Cowboys. Image: Channel 9/Getty

But a startling passage of play late in the first half against the Cowboys shows Hornby simply needs to find someone else to play fullback. After Reece Robson made a break in the 36th minute, Mitchell helped bring him down before tracking across the field as the Cowboys spread it left on the next play.

Mitchell then made a tackle on Tom Dearden to shut down the play, but the Cowboys were awarded six more tackles. As Dearden played the ball, Mitchell failed to get back into the defensive line and stayed on his haunches.

Latrell Mitchell, pictured here on the right wing rather than at fullback.
Latrell Mitchell was on the right wing rather than at fullback. Image: Channel 9

He eventually managed to get back but stayed on the right wing for a breather and asked Jacob Gagai to take over at fullback. Mitchell remained on the wing to catch his breath for a number of plays, before the Cowboys eventually got the ball to their right and scored through Braidon Burns.

It's doubtful that Mitchell would have been able to do anything to prevent Burns scoring in the corner, but he certainly wasn't going to do anything while standing on the opposite wing. It's unlikely that any of the game's other elite fullbacks would have taken a break at such an important time after the Rabbitohs had managed to snatch a 12-10 lead after trailing 10-0 early.

Latrell Mitchell in action for the Rabbitohs against the Cowboys.
Latrell Mitchell was catching his breath when the Cowboys scored at the end of the first half. Image: Channel 9

Speaking on SEN radio on Monday, analyst Jimmy Smith highlighted the concerning scenes for Souths. “I was watching closely the play of Latrell Mitchell at fullback and physically he is incapable of providing for that team what is required of your fullback,” he said.

“I mean (incapable) by connection to the line in defence, talking to people…where’s the organisation of the defensive line? You see this at the ground just how far away, how disconnected, Latrell is from his defensive line. Then there’s a lack of involvement, how much involvement? 14 carries for 70 metres. Get him to the centre position.”


However Smith also pointed out the tall order a rookie coach in Hornby will have in telling such a big personality that he can't play his preferred position. “I’m not sure if [Souths] have got a fullback. We know Jye Gray is still injured,” Smith said. “And then you think about how that plays out in reality. Ben Hornby, coaching his fourth game, walks up to Latrell and goes ‘Hey, Latrell I’m going to put you in the centres’. Good luck with that one.”

Speaking on Fox Sports over the weekend, Panthers great Greg Alexander said Mitchell's lack of involvement means he's relying on pulling off big plays too often. "That increases the pressure on you to be the fullback,” Alexander said. “If you touch the ball half a dozen times, you need to come up with something special in those plays.

“By not being involved that much, you put pressure on yourself to come up with big plays, the plays that make people notice. That’s where Latrell is at the moment and that’s not happening because the side is not travelling well. I don’t know how they fix this.”

Broncos great Corey Parker added: “I love Latrell Mitchell, everyone in the game loves Latrell Mitchell when he’s playing the style of play we have seen Latrell Mitchell play. But the work ethic across the board and as individuals isn’t quite where it needs to be. It’s not always the case with Latrell but when your team is on the line and you’re absolutely ripping and tearing and clawing for anything you need, you need to put yourself in the game.”