Latrell Mitchell in awkward development with Michael Maguire amid huge State of Origin call

Mitchell and Maguire will meet hours before the NSW team for Game II is announced.

NSW coach Michael Maguire is set to come face to face with Latrell Mitchell hours before he names his Blues team for Game II. The Rabbitohs star was left out of Maguire's Game I squad but with the series on the line in Melbourne, calls are mounting for Mitchell to be recalled.

Mitchell was back to his devastating best last weekend and had a hand in just about everything in the Bunnies 46-12 win over the Titans. The Souths No.1 scored the first try and played a key role in three others, while also making four tackle busts in a dominant display.

Pictured left Latrell Mitchell and right Michael Maguire
Latrell Mitchell and Michael Maguire will meet hours before the NSW team for Game II is named. Image: Getty

Mitchell's performance was sure to gain the attention of the Blues coach as he searches for a new centre after Joseph Suaalii copped a four-game ban for a high shot on Maroons fullback Reece Walsh in Game I. The Souths star is set to be rivalled for the vacant centre spot by Bradman Best and Matt Burton.

But many believe the Souths fullback is most likely to get the nod. Maguire reportedly left the Rabbitohs superstar out of his squad for Game I due to reservations about how committed he was to the Blues.

There was a suggestion Mitchell felt he owed it to Souths to try and dig them out of a hole after their horror start to the season. And veteran rugby league journalist Phil Rothfield reported on Sky Sports Radio last week that Maguire was unimpressed with Mitchell following a meeting before the Origin opener. “Madge walked away from that meeting with an opinion that he (Latrell) wasn’t overly obsessed about wearing the Blues jersey,” Rothfield said.

Mitchell took to social media to clear things up writing: "Just to clarify... I’m always committed to playing for NSW. I specifically said to Madge via phone call if I’m playing well enough for me to be in your side, then I’m 100 per cent in. I bleed blue, I love the rivalry and the Origin arena".

The Rabbitohs fullback will have another chance to impress Maguire against the Broncos on Friday night. The pair will then spend Saturday together at South Sydney's 10-year premiership reunion, which is being held at Souths Juniors. It could be a chance for the pair to clear the air.

NRL legend Andrew Johns believes picking Mitchell is a no-brainer, insisting his inclusion is vital to the Blues keeping the series alive. "Latrell just has to come in – there are no ifs or buts," Johns told The Sunday Footy Show last week.

"There's all rumours floating around that something happened pre-camp and he wasn't talking to Madge or didn't turn up or something. Who cares? Just get him in there. He's a serious X factor and he just destroyed (the Titans).

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 08: Latrell Mitchell of the Rabbitohs celebrates winning the round 14 NRL match between Gold Coast Titans and South Sydney Rabbitohs at Cbus Super Stadium, on June 08, 2024, in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
Latrell Mitchell starred for Souths against the Gold Coast Titans in Round 14.

"It's just got to be him and Stephen Crichton in the centres... Whatever's happened in the past (with Blues coach Maguire), you've got to mend that or sort that out. We all know Latrell's a big personality but you've got to manage personalities. That's the job of the coach."

Mitchell's former teammate, Luke Keary, backed calls for Mitchell's Origin recall saying he is the type of player that can turn the game on its head in an instant. "I’ve stood next to him in some big games, two grand finals," Keary said of Mitchell.


"Whether he’s in form, out of form, playing fullback, in, out, whatever people say about him. If he lines up in an Origin game I can guarantee you the blokes standing across from him and next to him, he puts belief in the people around him. He can come up with massive plays at different times and he’ll turn up. Whatever mindset he’s in. He’ll turn up for NSW."