South Sydney captain Adam Reynolds has launched an impassioned defence of NRL star Latrell Mitchell, likening media scrutiny surrounding him to that endured by Michael Jordan.
The ESPN documentary 'The Last Dance' shows Chicago Bulls legend Jordan grappling with overwhelming media attention in his final years in the NBA, and Reynolds is concerned something similar could happen with Mitchell.
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The 22-year-old was the centre of a media storm after he was found to have breached social distancing laws last month.
It was the latest in a string of controversies surrounding Mitchell after his high-profile contract negotiations, the NRL advertisement and his switch to fullback.
Reynolds said Mitchell, who has a newborn baby at home, has been “harassed” by journalists at his house and warns it could take its toll on one of the NRL's brightest stars.
“I'm not worried about him leaving the game, he's got a great family and great support around him, but at the end of the day he's a human being and if you keep knocking him, and keep chasing him everywhere he goes, it can have an effect on anyone,” Reynolds said on Wednesday.
“It happened to Michael Jordan and he's at the top of the pinnacle of all sports.
“Latrell is a young kid, yeah he's made some mistakes but he's coming in here all bubbly and he's constantly scrutinised by the media, which I think is unfair.”
Reynolds calls for Mitchell to be given space
Reynolds said while he understands the young Test and Origin star is a high-profile player, he believes Mitchell deserves space and privacy in his own home.
“If it was another player in his situation they wouldn't be on the front page of the paper, it's just because his name is Latrell Mitchell,” Reynolds said.
“I don't think it's fair that journos or whatnot turn up to his door and harass him at his family home.
“There's no privacy in that and I think that's crossing the boundary.”
Reynolds and Mitchell were among three Rabbitohs players denied access to Redfern Oval on Monday and sent for COVID-19 tests, which returned negative results.
The Rabbitohs resumed training in groups of 10 on Wednesday, and Reynolds said Mitchell was in a “positive” mood.