Michael Maguire makes eye-opening call on picking Latrell Mitchell for State of Origin

The Rabbitohs fullback will have to wait another three weeks before he can prove the doubters wrong.

Michael Maguire has confirmed Latrell Mitchell is no guarantee to play for the Blues in 2024 with the New South Wales coach telling the fullback to find his game before Origin time. Mitchell is currently serving a three-game NRL ban for an elbow on Shaun Johnson.

The fullback has been at the centre of criticism in 2024 having struggled with his form for the club. The Rabbitohs are currently 1-5 and sit last on the NRL ladder. Mitchell is currently looking to re-find the form that saw him feature for the Blues three years ago in the centres. Mitchell has not played State of Origin for the last two years due to injury. And while he was a certain selection at centre in 2021, Mitchell appears to be struggling to hold his fullback spot at club level.

New Blues coach Michael Maguire (pictured right) has not guaranteed Latrell Mitchell (pictured left) a position for the Blues having told the fullback to find his focus before Origin. (Getty Images)
New Blues coach Michael Maguire (pictured right) has not guaranteed Latrell Mitchell (pictured left) a position for the Blues having told the fullback to find his focus before Origin. (Getty Images)

Many Blues fans also don't believe Mitchell should walk into the Blues side on current form. And while Maguire admitted it was not far-fetched to see the Rabbitohs star regather his devastating form, which has seen him put in brilliant displays at centre, the new Blues coach admitted Mitchell is not a guaranteed selection for his 17.

“Everyone knows the capabilities of Latrell, but it’s about making sure he is in the right headspace,” Maguire said at the launch of the Origin campaign in Melbourne. “At the moment, one thing I know is that in big games, you need your focus right about where you are going.

“Souths are going through a tough period, but Latrell has a chance to bunker down and really help the NSW team. He has another couple of months where he can put himself into that shape, but Origin games are up there with the biggest games of your life.

“I want to see that focus from all the players, making sure they are in a good headspace and feeling good about where they are. That helps the make-up of your team. We need all our guys to be playing at their best, including Latrell.”

Latrell Mitchell watches the Rabbitohs.
Latrell Mitchell (pictured) is not a guaranteed starter for the Blues in 2024.

Maguire admitted he wanted to bring back the passion of the 90s, which he feels was the pinnacle for Blues supporters when they were excited to see their team compete. And when pressed, Maguire refused to weigh-in on the all-important decision of who would play in the halves. This comes as fans wait to find out who will most likely pair with Nathan Cleary in the No.6 jersey.

“This next couple of months is really important for everyone available,” Maguire said at the launch . “I guess I’ll keep a lot of chatter around the players close to myself. That’s how I like it. I’ll be in constant dialogue with the players performing well and playing consistently, in terms of what I want from those guys.”

Billy Slater and Michael Maguire pose with the trophy.
Queensland coach Billy Slater and NSW Blues head coach Michael Maguire.

Calls grow for Latrell Mitchell to shift back to centres

Young sensation Jye Gray played made his debut for the Rabbitohs on the weekend and put in a valiant effort at fullback in Mitchell's absence. And calls have been growing lately for Mitchell to return back to centre for his club after the suspension is over.


Jason Demetriou is under pressure to retain his job as the Rabbitohs head coach. But he has also claimed Gray has every opportunity to retain the fullback position when Mitchell returns.

“It’s Jye’s spot at the moment, and if he keeps playing well, he’s every chance to keep it,” Demetriou told the Sydney Morning Herald. “You never know in rugby league. Who is available in another two weeks’ time might be different to who is available now.

“I just want him to focus on each week. He’ll get a good prep going down to Melbourne, which will help. He’s obviously got speed, and he’s a real threat who can make a lot of metres for a little bloke. There’s more to come from him, and once he gets settled in, and we get more quality ball to him, he’ll be even better again.

“We said before the game he had earned the right to be here, and he should go out and enjoy it. One game was not going to define him. It’s just the start.”