Latrell Mitchell detail from Origin camp emerges as Gorden Tallis takes issue with Blues star

Mitchell's actions have come to light amid the backlash around him.

Details have emerged about the leadership qualities Latrell Mitchell brought to Blues camp before his side's resounding State of Origin Game 2 victory against Queensland on Wednesday night. Mitchell and the Blues bullied the Maroons in the 38-18 mauling at the MCG, with the star centre's aggressive approach rubbing many viewers up the wrong way such as Queensland great, Gorden Tallis.

Mitchell clearly had a point to prove against the Maroons after missing out on the Game 1 defeat in Sydney, and veteran league reporter Phil Rothfield revealed on NRL 360 on Thursday night that it all started in Blues camp. The Rabbitohs superstar repaid the faith shown in by Michael Maguire, and became one of the coach's key senior figures after being recalled to the NSW side for the first time since 2021. Mitchell's role was even more crucial for a Blues side missing the experience of former skipper James Tedesco, who played in Game 1 but was dropped for Dylan Edwards.

Pictured left to right, Gorden Tallis and Blues Origin centre Latrell Mitchell.
Gorden Tallis questioned some of the aggressive tactics Latrell Mitchell used against Maroons players in Game 2 of the State of Origin series. Pic: Getty

Rothfield said a chat with NSW Blues general manager, Frank Ponissi, shed light on just how influential Mitchell was during camp and and the respect he commanded from teammates in the lead-up to Game 2. “He (Ponissi) said the moment he (Mitchell) walked into that squad he insisted on being a leader,” Rothfield said about the NSW centre. “Whenever he spoke the players stopped, listened, absorbed and took it on. They were amazed that this troubled soul from two or three months ago had overcome all of this and played such an important role.”


Mitchell was overlooked by Maguire for Game 1 in the wake of his indifferent form with the struggling Rabbitohs and questions around his commitment to rep footy. But the Rabbitohs superstar has helped turn around his club's fortunes, with the Bunnies on a four-game winning streak and off the bottom of the ladder. And NRL 360 host Braith Anasta said key to the resurgence has been Mitchell's attitude on the footy field and willingness to improve the effort areas in his game that have often come under scrutiny this season. “He’s doing the talking on the field. You can see it in his effort areas. he’s working hard,” the NRL 360 host said.

Anasta is a former NSW Origin star himself and loved seeing the mongrel that Mitchell brought to the Blues side in their Origin bash-up of the Maroons on Wednesday night. “We spoke about his presence, the big moments, the occasion and State of Origin where he’s performed well so many times,” Anasta said. “His defence (and) his aggression, even off the ball. You know what I loved? Even off the ball he was hitting players... Reece Walsh, I think he disposed the ball over the dead ball line and he (Latrell) threw him over the dead ball line.”

While Anasta and plenty of Blues fans loved seeing Mitchell rough up the likes of Walsh and Valentine Holmes, others such as Tallis and Fox League's James Hooper suggested the Blues centre crossed the line with some of his questionable tactics. Tallis said NSW fans would be crying foul if the shoe was on the other foot and indicated it was the reason fans jeered Mitchell during his on-field interview after the match.

Seen here, Blues centre Latrell Mitchell tackles Maroons opposite Valentine Holmes in Origin Game 2.
Blues centre Latrell Mitchell targeted the likes of Maroons opposite Valentine Holmes with some brutal defence in Origin Game 2. Pic: Getty

“Latrell doesn’t like getting criticised right?” Tallis asked. “The thing is... he can do his talking by playing and he was one of the best players on the field. But don’t push him (Walsh). And Val Holmes, they crunch him and he runs away and he (Latrell) smashes him in the head. That’s why you don’t like him... Listen, when the shoes on the other foot, don’t whinge. Don’t sit there and whinge.

Hooper said he can understand Mitchell wanting to inspire his Blues teammates with his aggression on the field, but admitted that pushing Walsh in the back was a bad look. “It’s not tough... I agree with Gordie. It’s not tough to push a little fullback over when he’s not looking,” Hooper said.