Latrell Mitchell set to make tough Origin call amid harsh Rabbitohs fullback reality

The Rabbitohs fullback could be set to focus on playing footy for the Rabbitohs.

Latrell Mitchell is reporetedly considering telling Blues coach Michael Maguire he won't be in contention to play State of Origin in 2024 as he looks to help the struggling Rabbitohs, amid speculation he could lose the fullback role to Jye Gray. Mitchell has endured a brutal 2024 NRL season having copped criticism for his below-par performances in the first five rounds, before he was hit with a three-week ban for elbowing Shaun Johnson.

The Rabbitohs languish in the last position on the ladder with coach Jason Demetriou fighting for his job. And before Mitchell returns for the Rabbitohs next week, the club face reigning champions Penrith on Thursday night. They then take on the Dragons when Mitchell returns.

Latrell Mitchell (pictured) is reportedly set to withdraw his name for State of Origin contention as he looks hold his own fullback position at the Rabbitohs with the emergence of Jye Gray. (Getty Images)
Latrell Mitchell (pictured) is reportedly set to withdraw his name for State of Origin contention as he looks hold his own fullback position at the Rabbitohs with the emergence of Jye Gray. (Getty Images)

Many New South Wales fans at the start of the season had Mitchell as a lock for the Blues centre if he was fit. This is due to his barnstorming performances at centre in the past. However, his poor form and lack of game time has seen him drop out of contention for Blues fans. And Michael Maguire even recently stated Mitchell had to get back to playing his best footy before he would return.

And in a big move, The Sydney Morning Herald has claimed Mitchell could withdraw his name from selection contention. While Mitchell's move is in a bid to focus on club footy, many feel Mitchell was not close to being selected for Origin anyway with his form not up to his usual lofty standards in 2024.

Mitchell didn't play Origin last year due to injury and he would only have around 16 days to prove himself to Maguire when he returns after the Panthers clash. Maguire's comments a few weeks ago also appear to suggest the Rabbitohs star was not favourite to return at centre in the Origin arena.

“Everyone knows the capabilities of Latrell, but it’s about making sure he is in the right headspace,” Maguire said at the launch of the Origin campaign in Melbourne earlier this month. “At the moment, one thing I know is that in big games, you need your focus right about where you are going.

“Souths are going through a tough period, but Latrell has a chance to bunker down and really help the NSW team. He has another couple of months where he can put himself into that shape, but Origin games are up there with the biggest games of your life. I want to see that focus from all the players, making sure they are in a good headspace and feeling good about where they are. That helps the make-up of your team. We need all our guys to be playing at their best, including Latrell.”

And in a brutal move for Mitchell, the Rabbitohs star isn't even guaranteed to return back at fullback with youngster Gray filling fans with confidence in his latest display. The Rabbitohs may have been humiliated after a Cameron Munster masterclass for the Storm, but the fullback was full of effort.

The 20-year-old was playing just his second NRL game and he was involved in all the best plays for the Rabbitohs. He ran for 196 metres and made two tackle breaks. However, his most important stat could have been his effort in defence.

Despite not being the biggest fullback, Gray did not miss a tackle in his seven attempts. One of the biggest moments came when Gray cut down the towering Nelson Asofa-Solomona only metres out from the line. The height and weight difference is staggering, but Gray didn't hesitate to rush out and meet the prop head on.

Latrell Mitchell watches on.
Latrell Mitchell (pictured) could be set to miss Origin in 2024.

And fans couldn't help but compare Gray's efforts, in a heavily defeated team, to Mitchell's stats in 2024. In the first five games of the season, Mitchell was strong in attack having scored two tries. However, he only passed 150 running metres in one game. In his last two games, he failed to run more than 100 metres against the Bulldogs and Warriors.

Demetriou has declared the No.1 jersey is Gray's to lose after a strong showing on debut against the Sharks. His display against the Storm will only add to the growing calls for Gray to remain in the No.1 jersey. This could see Mitchell move to centre, which is where he made his name in the NRL as a bulldozing runner.