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Latrell Mitchell is struggling with the fallout from his controversial hit on Joseph Manu, with the partner of the Rabbitohs' fullback receiving death threats in the wake of the NRL controversy.
That's according to Mitchell's uncle Maurice Goolagong, who says his nephew is "regretful" about the incident and "not doing well" as a result of the backlash.
Amid a maelstrom of controversy, Mitchell will miss the rest of the season for last Friday night's reckless tackle on Roosters centre Manu, who has undergone facial reconstructive surgery as a result of the hit gone wrong.
Mitchell's six-week suspension has now put Souths' premiership hopes in jeopardy with one round to play before the finals.
Mitchell has come under intense criticism in the days following the incident, with NSW Blues teammate James Tedesco calling for the fiery young star to find some balance in his game.
Speaking to radio network Triple M, Mitchell's uncle painted an ugly picture about the abuse that the Rabbitohs star, and even his partner, have suffered as a result of the incident.
“He’s an aggressive player and that’s the way he plays,” Goolagong told Paddy & Rob Palmer on Triple M Central Coast.
“When he does something right everyone praises him, then there’s one little incident and they’re all jumping on him.
“After this incident here, even his partner has been getting death threats.”
Goolagong said it is clear from conversations he's had with his nephew that Mitchell is deeply remorseful about the incident, and confirmed the player has reached out to Manu to offer his apology.
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“He’s only 24 and off the field – if you met this bloke – you’d have a different opinion of him,” Goolagong said.
“I’ve spoken to him every day and he’s not going too well.
“He likes to win, there was no malice in it whatsoever. It was just unfortunate how the tackle happened.
“He’s not doing so well. He’s regretful, you can tell it in his voice. He’s spoke to Joseph Manu and they’ve talked about it and all that sort of stuff.”
Rabbitohs captain defends Latrell Mitchell
With some critics insisting Mitchell acted with intent when making contact with Manu's head, Rabbitohs teammate Adam Reynolds leapt to the fullback's defence.
"No player goes out there to deliberately hurt someone, that's basically all I'm going to say on the situation," the Souths skipper said.
"We can't control what's happened now, we've got to move on and worry about what's in front of us.
"It's a good opportunity for some of the younger boys to get a game this weekend."
Like Tedesco, Rabbitohs centre Campbell Graham said aggression is part of what makes Mitchell a special player.
"I don't want to see Latrell change his game at all," he said.
"I love what he brings on the field, I love his aggression and his intent on the field.
"Sometimes things go wrong on the footy field and that's it.
"Sometimes you're on the wrong end of it and it's a shame, you don't ever want to see anyone from opposition teams get hurt, that's not what our game's about."
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