Latrell Mitchell slams 'idiot' grandfather over claims he snubbed young NRL fans

The South Sydney fullback has responded to an ugly allegation aired on 2GB radio with Ben Fordham.

Latrell Mitchell.
Latrell Mitchell has rubbished suggestions he snubbed young fans. Image: Getty/AAP

Latrell Mitchell has emphatically denied allegations he snubbed young fans and told them to go away at a junior footy carnival in Penrith last weekend. Ben Fordham reported on 2BG radio this week that a grandfather had accused Mitchell of snubbing his grandkids when they asked the Souths fullback for a photo at the Mark Geyer Trophy event.

The man alleged to Fordham that his two grandchildren, aged four and eight, were told by Mitchell to “go away” when they asked him for a snap. The caller said: “To hear that on Saturday morning was so disappointing and I’m pretty sure I’m no longer a Rabbitohs supporter."

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The Rabbitohs later rubbished the claim and had warned Fordham not to report it, threatening the talkback host with legal action. On Tuesday night, Mitchell also smacked down the allegation in a story on his Instagram page.

“I’m glad everyone can believe one idiot (who makes) a stupid complaint,” Mitchell wrote. “Never once said no (to a photo), I said ‘wait til the games are over and I will happily’.

“I don’t need to explain myself. My integrity with the youth should never be questioned. When can we as NRL players have a day to sit and watch a bit of junior footy and enjoy our kids? Shame on you!”

Mitchell's brother Shaquai, who also plays for Souths, also slapped down the allegation, writing: “Seriously! This is getting old, don’t question my brother with (regards to) youth, (and) what he does for our younger generations coming through, got you my bra Latrell, put some respect on the name."

Latrell Mitchell, pictured here taking a photo with a young South Sydney Rabbitohs fan.
Latrell Mitchell takes a photo with a young South Sydney Rabbitohs fan. (AAP Image/Mark Evans)

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Mitchell’s manager Matt Rose told Fordham before the story was aired: “If you take on Latrell, you’ll have a legal letter on your doorstep.” Rose added: “Latrell Mitchell drove out to attend a gala day on Saturday and he was there with his family for several hours.

“Whilst at the gala day, Latrell signed autographs and shook hands with junior rugby league players. But there were no photos taken on the day. It is not uncommon for him to say no to photos. If this is raised in the media it will only push Latrell further away and it may lead him to not attending these events in future.”

The grandfather had earlier told Fordham: “They were both devastated. Especially the four-year-old, he ran back to my young daughter and said Latrell told them to go away.

“I can understand what he’s doing. He is a superstar. He is a human being. A normal person on the street, if you got asked by a four-year-old on the street, ‘Can I take your photo’, you’re not going to tell them to go away.

“The children look up to Latrell Mitchell. Even on Sunday morning we were playing a bit of football at the front of my yard and my four-year-old is always Latrell Mitchell, but then on Sunday he realised he can’t be Latrell Mitchell anymore, he had to pick another name. So he chose Nathan Cleary."

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Latrell Mitchell retirement fears amid nasty backlash

Mitchell frequently undertakes community work and is always happy to interact with fans - especially kids. He was recently nominated by the NRL for the prestigious Ken Stephen Medal, which recognises players' work and efforts in the community.

The Rabbitohs fullback has copped a raft of brutal criticism over the last few weeks as Souths suffered an embarrassing and historic exit from finals contention. Rodney Churchill, the son of NRL Immortal and Souths legend Clive, was widely condemned for labelling Mitchell a "cancer on the club" and an "embarrassment to the No.1 jersey".

Mitchell has managed to hold his head high through the nasty situation, but teammate Damien Cook expressed his fears that the 26-year-old will walk away from the game and retire if the unfair backlash continues. "You don't want to force a player like that into early retirement because he's just sick of it," Cook said. "You never know when enough is enough for some players. He'd have to be the most talked about player in the game and we've got to protect him."

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