Leadership role makes Mitchell even better

·2-min read

Latrell Mitchell's visit to a local Indigenous house helped spark the finest night of his State of Origin career, with Brad Fittler claiming the NRL star's leadership in the space has made him a better player.

Axed by NSW just two years ago and injured before last year's series, Mitchell showed in his return to Origin why Wayne Bennett labelled him the Blues' Greg Inglis last month.

He was sensational on the left edge, scoring two tries and making a crucial bust early that swung the momentum of the match in NSW's favour.

But while Mitchell took the decision to drop him back then hard, he's a different player now.

He has since become a leading voice on Indigenous matters in the game, regularly taking a stance against racism and referring two trolls to NSW Police earlier this year.

Mitchell also took time out of Origin camp just two days before the series opener with Josh Addo-Carr and Jack Wighton to visit Cowboys House.

The project provides accommodation to Indigenous adolescents from remote and educationally disadvantaged communities, with Mitchell dunking hoops with the youngsters in the lead up to the game.

"He was fantastic (on Wednesday night). There was a bit of a cloud around him coming back in but he has just handled himself fantastically," Fittler said on Thursday.

"Going up and seeing the Cowboys House was a real boost for him as well.

"What you saw on the field is the type of week he had.

"It's a lot to take in. Latrell is only 23, he's still pretty young.

"He has taken a lot on. Sometimes that brings pressure but he definitely handled it last night.

"It has helped his footy. But it will be ongoing."

The Blues' ad-lib style of football clearly suited Mitchell, with the centre getting early touches in what he compared to "backyard touch".

"I'm very proud of myself, very proud of the people that helped me get back to where I am and very proud of the team," he told AAP.

"Jarome Luai to give me the early ball, it's the kind of stuff a centre dreams of. I loved it.

"That's the best night I have had for a while.

"It's so hard to come up to Queensland territory and win."

Mitchell's performance on Wednesday should cement his spot in the Kangaroos backline, after what will be two years between Tests at a time where he has turned into a No.1 at club level.

"If he plays well we just get more fans, he is such a good player. It's as simple as that," Fittler said.

"Whether he is playing for Souths, NSW or I am sure Australia, he is just quite an athlete."

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