Luke Keary's telling admission about Latrell Mitchell amid calls for State of Origin recall

The Sydney Roosters player knows a thing or two about what it's like to stand alongside Latrell.

If NSW coach Michael Maguire needs advice on whether he should risk picking Latrell Mitchell for State of Origin II, he need look no further than Luke Keary. With Joseph Suaalii suspended for four games, Maguire needs to find a new centre for the second game of the series in Melbourne.

Bradman Best, who starred in Game III last year, is nearing a return from injury, while Sharks centre Jesse Ramien is in contention. But the overwhelming call from fans and commentators is for Mitchell to be given a recall for the first time since 2021.

Mitchell was overlooked for Game I because Maguire reportedly wasn't sure how committed the Souths player was to the Blues' cause. Maguire is thought to be of the belief that Mitchell is more focused on helping the Rabbitohs climb off the bottom of the NRL ladder than winning the Origin shield with the Blues.

Luke Keary and Latrell Mitchell.
Luke Keary knows from first-hand experience what Latrell Mitchell does for a team in big games. Image: Getty

But Mitchell has since declared that he's all-in if Maguire wants to pick him, and his performances over the last few weeks have furthered his cause. Mitchell scored a try and assisted three others in South Sydney's demolition of the Titans on Saturday, while also breaking four tackles and running for 135 metres.

The constant criticism is that Mitchell doesn't get involved enough in attack and goes missing in defence. He only had 12 runs on Saturday despite all the attacking stats, and missed a one-on-one tackle to allow Alofiana Khan-Pereira to score the Titans' first try. However he did produce some other brilliant moments in defence to keep the Titans out.

Speaking on Fox League after the Rabbitohs' win, Roosters five-eighth Keary provided an insight into how Mitchell will lift the entire NSW team if he's picked. Mitchell, who previously played with Keary at the Roosters, has never lost an Origin series he's played in and always seems to rise to the occassion.

"I’ve stood next to him in some big games, two grand finals," Keary said of Mitchell. "Whether he’s in form, out of form, playing fullback, in, out, whatever people say about him. If he lines up in an Origin game I can guarantee you the blokes standing across from him and next to him, he puts belief in the people around him.

“He can come up with massive plays at different times and he’ll turn up. Whether, whatever mindset he’s in. He’ll turn up for NSW."

Luke Keary and Latrell Mitchell after the NRL grand final in 2019.
Luke Keary and Latrell Mitchell after the Sydney Roosters won the NRL grand final in 2019. Image: Getty


Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga and NSW legend Andrew Johns have also backed Mitchell for a recall. “They talk about Latrell’s effort levels...I thought he was in the game for the whole 80 tonight. He made a real difference,” Meninga said after the Titans game.

“He’s in a happy mood playing good footy. I think a buoyant, confident Latrell in the NSW side would be a good addition. I agree with Luke. My own personal opinion I think he’s one of the best centres to play the game. If he plays left centre, obviously he’s dangerous with the football when given the room to move. He’s got great skills as well.

“One of his best assets is his decision making defensively. I think he’s a very good decision maker in defence. As shown by his try-savers today. If he’s there, he’s dangerous.”

Latrell Mitchell, pictured here in action for NSW in State of Origin in 2019.
Latrell Mitchell in action for NSW in State of Origin in 2019. Image: Getty

Johns said on Channel 9 on Sunday: "Latrell just has to come in – there are no ifs or buts. There's all rumours floating around that something happened pre-camp and he wasn't talking to Madge or didn't turn up or something. Who cares? Just get him in there. He's a serious X-factor and he just destroyed them yesterday. It's just got to be him and Stephen Crichton in the centres."