'Works out well': Huge Latrell Mitchell detail in 2022 NRL draw

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Seen here, Rabbitohs star Latrell Mitchell during a round 24 clash against the Roosters in 2021.
Rabbitohs star Latrell Mitchell's return from suspension comes in a round three grudge match against the Roosters. Pic: Getty

The NRL's draw for 2022 has thrown up plenty of enticing prospects for footy fans but perhaps none more so than South Sydney star Latrell Mitchell's return to the NRL.

On Tuesday, details of next season's fixtures were released to the public, with reigning premiers Penrith to kick off the new campaign against Manly on March 10.

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However, it's Mitchell's return from a six-game suspension in round three that many league enthusiasts will already have bookmarked in their calendars, with the South Sydney star's first game back coming against fierce rivals and former club, the Roosters.

The Rabbitohs fullback was rubbed out of the back-end of his side's season - which culminated in a thrilling loss to the Panthers in the NRL decider - after a shocking late hit on Roosters star Joseph Manu in round 24.

Manu had to undergo surgery after suffering multiple cheekbone fractures as a result of the incident that ended Mitchell's season early.

Mitchell's return against the Tri-colours in round three is a tantalising prospect for NRL fans and one that is sure to generate some fireworks on field.

NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said it wasn't a deliberate ploy for Mitchell's return game to be against the Roosters but it's no doubt an added bonus for fans.

"There's a lot of things that go into making sure that the first couple of rounds have a lot of excitement," NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said.

"The Roosters-Rabbitohs always typically bookend the season.

"So I can't say we did it deliberately, there's so many constraints that go into this.

"But it does work out well."

Seen here, the aftermath of Latrell Mitchell's hit on Joseph Manu.
Roosters star Joseph Manu was left with multiple cheek fractures as a result of the hit by Latrell Mitchell. Pic: Getty

The grudge match between the Roosters and Mitchell is just one of several highlights of the 2022 fixture list.

Penrith's season-opening match against Manly is set to pit Clive Churchill Medallist Nathan Cleary against Dally M Medal winner Tom Trbojevic.

That will depend on Cleary being fit to overcome a shoulder injury in time to play, with the match marking the first game back in NSW since last July.

Adam Reynolds will also face his former club South Sydney in the opening round when he runs out for Brisbane against the Rabbitohs.

The grand final rematch will fall in round four between the Panthers and Rabbitohs, while arch-rivals Penrith and Melbourne meet during Magic Round in Brisbane.

Warriors set for NZ return in June 

The Warriors are poised to return home against Penrith in round 15, marking their first match in New Zealand since 2019.

That is subject to the New Zealand border reopening to Australia in time, with the Warriors to play their home games in Redcliffe and the Sunshine Coast until June.

Even if the border does reopen earlier, it is unlikely the NRL will move matches back to Auckland before June 18.

Pictured here, Warriors players stand together during an NRL game in 2021.
The Warriors will be relishing a return to home games in New Zealand in 2022. Pic: Getty

"You never say never to anything, but I'd say it's unlikely," Abdo said.

"Because the Warriors through the request ... do want an element of certainty.

"Having said that, I'm personally really excited for us to hopefully get back to New Zealand.

"It's going to be pretty special moment when it happens."

The NRL also confirmed the dates and venues for State of Origin 2022, with NSW on home soil to start their title defence in Sydney on Wednesday, June 8.

Game Two will be played in Perth on Sunday June 26 and the third clash scheduled for Brisbane on Wednesday, July 13.

The NRL's grand final will land on October 2 at Stadium Australia, just 13 days before the Rugby League World Cup opener in the UK.

with AAP

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