Latrell Mitchell in big State of Origin development amid sad Kotoni Staggs detail for NSW

Mitchell starred as one of his other main Origin rivals suffered an injury scare.

Latrell Mitchell has taken a massive step towards earning a State of Origin recall after a superb display in South Sydney's 46-12 thumping of the Gold Coast in the NRL on Saturday. Mitchell's incredible performance came before fellow Blues hopeful Kotoni Staggs aggravated a right knee injury in Brisbane's disappointing 22-12 loss to Cronulla that could have all but ended his hopes of being picked by NSW coach Michael Maguire for Game II.

Maguire has said he does not want players under serious injury clouds in his Blues squad, which could spell bad news for Staggs, who was excellent in the first half for the Broncos. Staggs made five tackle breaks, ran for 96 run metres and was a constant menace to the Sharks before injuring himself in a tackle midway through the second half and hobbling off the field. He did return to the field to play out the final few minutes but the injury would appear to be of some concern.

Pictured left to right, NSW Blues State of Origin hopefuls Kotoni Staggs and Latrell Mitchell.
NSW Origin hopeful Kotoni Staggs aggravated a right knee injury for Brisbane while Latrell Mitchell put on a show for the Rabbitohs in a stunning claim for Blues selection. Pic: Getty

Staggs' opposite centre for Cronulla Jesse Ramien also staked his claim to replace suspended Blues centre Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii for Game II, with a strong performance against the Broncos. Ramien made 190 metres from 20 strong carries in the 10-point win as the Sharks - missing Nicho Hynes - bounced back from the disappointment of two straight defeats to get their campaign back on track.

Ramien is considered one of the front-runners for the now vacant Blues centre spot, with Mitchell, Staggs, Bradman Best and Matt Burton the other names in the mix. "It would be a dream come true and a real honour if I got to put on the Blues jersey but that can only come off the back of performing well for the Sharks," Ramien told AAP.

"I am ready but I can only control what I can control. Madge (Maguire) gave me a call earlier in the year before Origin, and after as well. I do feel like I am close. (Maguire) just said that I was in contention and I had a couple of big games coming up."


But the loudest calls seem to be for Rabbitohs superstar Mitchell to come into Maguire's Blues side for the second game of the Origin series at the MCG on June 26. Maguire reportedly opted against picking Mitchell for Game I due to reservations about how much the South Sydney fullback was committed to the Blues. But the Bunnies star will be hard to overlook after his scintillating display for Souths in Saturday's 34-point thumping of the vastly improved Titans.

Mitchell had a hand injury just about everything good that the Rabbitohs did against the Titans after opening the scoring for the visitors. He also played a key role in three other tries and made four tackle busts in a brutal display of attacking footy.

But it was in defence - where Mitchell has frequently been criticised - that the Rabbitohs No.1 really shone. Mitchell made two try-saving tackles in quick succession as the Titans looked to level the contest - scything down Alofiana Khan-Pereira and hooker Chris Randall to give his side a massive lift.

Seen here, Latrell Mitchell racing away for a South Sydney try against Gold Coast in the NRL.
Latrell Mitchell races away for a South Sydney try against Gold Coast in the NRL. Pic: Getty

"That's one of his strengths isn't it? When teams make a line-break they've got to get past the big fella," teammate Cody Walker said after also starring in the rout. "He's got that presence about him where he's hard to beat one on one."

Mitchell's kicking game was also excellent on Saturday, with several massive spiralling bombs causing the Gold Coast plenty of headaches. And Rabbitohs interim coach Ben Hornby said after the game that Mitchell should definitely be picked in the Blues' must-win Game II of the Origin series, with plenty of fans agreeing. "He's just going to continue to get better. I can't see why (Maguire) wouldn't want to pick him," Hornby said.

with AAP