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South Sydney forward Keaon Koloamatangi says their side need superstar Latrell Mitchell back as soon as possible after the fullback's return from injury was put back a week following a positive COVID-19 test.
Mitchell last played for the Rabbitohs in round five before a hamstring injury sidelined the 24-year-old for eight weeks.
He also underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee after tweaking it in round four, and in a double-stack attempt while on the sidelines, had some cartilage shaved off, which brought a projected six-to-eight week recovery time.
But after being hopeful for a round 14 return, Mitchell tested positive to COVID-19 on Sunday, meaning the fullback will miss training and isolate from his teammates hoping to be back in the fullback jersey the following round.
"We can't wait to have him back, we need him," Koloamatangi said on Monday.
"He just brings a lot of confidence to the boys when he's playing. When he's on he's the best player in the comp.
"Starting our sets and that, it's a massive difference. Not many people can tackle him and I'm very happy I'm on his team."
Mitchell has registered just four appearances for the Rabbitohs in 2022, scoring two tries.
His delayed return could hamper his chances at making the NSW Blues' side for game two of State of Origin, on June 26 in Perth.
South Sydney play St George Illawarra in round 15 before the Blues enter camp again for the second game of the series, giving Mitchell just one game to prove his fitness for Brad Fittler's side.
Mitchell spent the last month in the US rehabilitating before returning to Australia.