Latrell Mitchell's concerning comments, truth about Brandon Smith: Good, bad, ugly of NRL Round 15

Some of the major talking points from an action-packed round of NRL.

😃 The good: Michael Maguire's brave call to pick Latrell Mitchell

😔 The bad: Time running out for Trent Barrett at Parramatta

😡 The ugly: Brandon Smith situation at Sydney Roosters

Latrell Mitchell back in an Origin jumper is good for business, good for NSW and good for the bloke himself. He's an Origin class player and deserves to be in that arena if his head and heart are fully invested. He will give the Blues a big lift in a must-win game before a full house at the MCG. The stage is set for him.

But his comments around being a scapegoat in previous Origin defeats are cause for some concern. "There was a lot of doubt with NSW because I've never been looked after," Mitchell told Nine News. "I've been the scapegoat. Not having that protection after, when the sh*t hits the fan, that's where the doubt crept in about going back and playing representative footy."

Latrell Mitchell.
Latrell Mitchell in action for the Rabbitohs against the Broncos. Image: Getty

There's no doubt Mitchell brings sharp focus from critics and fans alike. That's because he is such a quality player and expectations are high. He also comes with a big profile and is not scared to be seen and heard, making him an easy target when things go astray.

But when things go wrong in Origin and your team doesn’t win, you cop heat. Just ask Nicho Hynes. Just ask Nathan Cleary. Just ask James Tedesco. Latrell is no different.

As Queensland great Gorden Tallis said: "If you want the good stories written about you, (you've got to) take the bad. If you like when they're putting you on the front page, you have to take the odd criticism. It's a two-way street. When you put yourself out there, people want to chip away at you. Do I like it? No. Is there a tall poppy syndrome? Yes." Nail on head.

The Trent Barrett media charm offensive that caused him heat from some Parramatta board members is not the reason he's at long odds to land the head coaching gig. While it's true Baz's sales pitch in the Herald and Telegraph didn’t go down well at Eels HQ, it will be on-field results that will ultimately determine his fate.

And, unfortunately for the likeable interim coach, the stats don't make for great reading. Barrett has guided Parramatta to just one win in four since taking the reins from Brad Arthur last month.

Those two most recent games – against Canterbury and the Roosters – were both there to be won but the Eels couldn’t get the job done. It's left them in 15th spot and with no real hope of making a late season run to the finals.

Trent Barrett during a Parramatta Eels game.
Trent Barrett looks on during Parramatta's loss to South Sydney. Image: Getty

It's also leaves Barrett with a career win percentage of 32 per cent following previous struggles at Manly and Canterbury. As much as Parramatta stars Mitchell Moses and Clint Gutherson have talked him up, the Eels simply won’t take a risk with Barrett with figures like that.

After missing out on Wayne Bennett, they have turned their attention to the likes of Josh Hannay and Jason Ryles. Jason Demetriou and Michael Cheika also have support and are in the mix. Barrett will have to do some major convincing for there to be a change of heart.

Plenty of clubs are watching with great interest the drama surrounding Brandon Smith at the Roosters. The larrikin hooker was left out of the team that beat Parramatta on Saturday night as punishment for missing a team meeting and has been given no guarantees on when he'll return.

Coach Trent Robinson insists that's where the matter will start and end and Smith won't be ostracised despite patience wearing thin over some of his off-field antics. Robinson is also adamant the former Storm star has a future at the Roosters and won't be moved on, but others are not so convinced.

Brandon Smith.
Brandon Smith in action for the Sydney Roosters. Image: Getty

Smith has form when it comes to off-field indiscretions and those who have dealt with him in the past are not convinced the lair in him can be completely removed. That's why Melbourne didn’t kick up much of a stink when he left a couple of years ago.

That Craig Bellamy was unable to fully tame him says plenty. It won’t stop a host of rival clubs asking after Smith should he be unable to win back the trust of Robinson and teammates.

Check back in every Monday throughout the NRL season for Adam Lucius' 'Good, Bad and Ugly' column.