😃 The good: Latrell Mitchell's sparkling display
😔 The bad: Tom Trbojevic sparks more concerns
😡 The ugly: Anthony Griffin circus at Dragons
Star fullbacks Latrell Mitchell and Tom Trbojevic turned in very different performances in round six of the NRL, while the situation at the Dragons became even murkier. Check out our recap of the biggest talking points.
Latrell Mitchell silences the haters in emphatic fashion
I often wonder how players from the pre-social media days would stand up to the scrutiny from fans if they were playing in the NRL in 2023. Can you imagine the pile-on if Tommy Raudonikis was raging his on-field warfare in the current era or Artie Beetson was only putting in half a game before devouring a pie in the grandstand? How would Wally Lewis have fared after lairing it up after putting NSW to the sword time and time again?
Latrell Mitchell is a throwback to that era. He doesn’t just play footy because he's good at it. He plays because he loves it.
If he left the NRL tomorrow, he'd be suiting up with a local Taree team by next Sunday. Yes, there have been some moments in his career (hello Joey Manu) where he hasn’t covered himself in glory…glory.
And sometimes he has been rightfully accused of not putting in a full shift. But to watch him play on Good Friday with that great big smile of his, pounding his chest with pride as he crossed for a try before punting the ball high into the stands, is one of the great joys in rugby league.
Mitchell is a true superstar and a true showman. The game needs more of both. Sometimes you need to push your own club loyalties to one side and drink in a great player. So, sip away.
Tom Trbojevic doesn't look 100 per cent fit
Mal Meninga described Tom Trbojevic as "definitely playing within himself" in Manly's heavy loss to Penrith. Cooper Cronk went a little further.
"It looked that when he went to have a couple of surges, he just pulled back slightly," the four-time premiership winner said. "I know he's the figurehead of what Manly are doing but he just looked under-done."
Trbojevic's hesitant performance – where he was seen feeling for an injury which was later put down as back spasms that required painkiller injections – is of major concern for the Sea Eagles. It's not like this was a one-off.
Turbo hasn’t been running on all cylinders for most of the season. It was obvious from round one where he slowed up and almost surrendered when a gap opened up against the Bulldogs.
The Tom Trbojevic of 2021 speeds through that defensive fissure and plants the ball down at the other end. It's clear the Manly No.1 is still carrying scar tissue of the mental kind after having his body betray him repeatedly over the past few years.
Who could blame him for not wanting to put the foot fully to the floor? The confidence will return in time but Blues coach Brad Fittler must be getting a little jittery. State of Origin is no place for a player not at 100 per cent.
Anthony Griffin 'living crazy existence' at Dragons
Six rounds into the season and the rumours Anthony Griffin is living on borrowed time at St George Illawarra just won’t go away. 'Hook' was asked to re-apply for his job as the Dragons openly declared they would go to market to seek the best candidate to take the club forward from 2024.
The club was praised in some quarters for being up front and doing their due diligence, but in reality it's left Griffin living this crazy existence. The Dragons' so-so start to the season hasn't really told us anything we didn’t already know.
There's been a couple of good wins mixed with horrible second half collapses and a winnable game thrown away on the weekend. In other words, pretty much what the Red V has been dishing up for years.
Griffin is getting no better or no worse as a coach so either re-appoint him now and end this charade or rip the Band-Aid off and get a new man in. All the delay is doing is leading to match-by-match updates on his future.
A Dragons win gives him a stay of execution while a defeat has him walking the gallows. It’s got to the stage where even a dropped ball like the one we saw from Ben Hunt at the end of St George Illawarra's two-point loss to the Gold Coast produces headlines speculating whether it was the knock-on "that could cost Anthony Griffin his job". It’s got to be destabilising for both coach and players – and a real season-killer.
Check back in every Monday for Adam Lucius' weekly recap of the NRL round that was.
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