Latrell Mitchell's stunning State of Origin claim: 'Too much politics'

Latrell Mitchell is pictured looking on during a match for the Kangaroos at the Rugby League World Cup.
Latrell Mitchell says 'politics' played a role in his decision to sit out the State of Origin decider earlier this year. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images for RLWC)

Latrell Mitchell says there is 'too much politics' in State of Origin and that it partially contributed to his decision to make himself unavailable for selection in the deciding game three this year.

On tour in England for the Rugby League World Cup with the Kangaroos, Mitchell declared his holds a goal of being the best Indigenous NRL player of all time.

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A successful World Cup defence would go some ways toward helping him achieve that goal, though it was by Mitchell's own admission a last-minute decision to join the Kangaroos squad at the behest of coach Mal Meninga.

Mitchell had been favouring enjoying some time away from the game on his family farm, much as he had at the end of the 2022 State of Origin series, before he was convinced by Meninga that he would miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime.

The 25-year-old comments about State of Origin selections came amid a discussion about Reagan Campbell-Gillard's return to the Kangaroos side to face New Zealand.

The Eels prop was memorably dropped prior to NSW's game three Origin loss to Queensland, with Mitchell putting his absence down to 'politics'.

“It’s a funny little game that Origin stuff and at the end of the day there’s too much politics in the game,” Mitchell said.

“I get caught up in it a bit, but you sort of have to roll with the punches.

“I’ve always thought (RCG) is that person you look to, to run the ball hard.. and I want to see him come off the back fence this week.

“He’s definitely a credit to himself in what he’s been able to do and what he’s been able to achieve.

“Now it’s just exciting for him just to get through this week and get ready to go against New Zealand.”

Latrell Mitchell's bold declaration on NRL legacy

Mitchell paid tribute to Kangaroos teammates Jack Wighton and Josh Addo-Carr for helping him deal with some homesickness early on in the trip to England for the World Cup.

The South Sydney star said he has loft goals for his career and legacy, and part of that is making the 'sacrifice' along with his teammates to represent Australia.

“I definitely have a goal to be the best Indigenous player to ever play the game. I’m just proud to be a black fella and represent my heritage and it would be awesome to one day hear people say ‘Latrell Mitchell, the proudest black fella to ever play the game’," Mitchell said.

“I was umming and ahhing (about the World Cup)... but when Mal gave me the call I was ready to go.

“I was getting homesick here the first few weeks, I’ll be honest. But at the end of the day I’m here now and loving it.

Reagan Campbell-Gillard is pictured during the Kangaroos' captain's run prior to their World Cup game against New Zealand.
Reagan Campbell-Gillard is set to return for Australia's key World Cup clash against New Zealand. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

“Foxx (Josh Addo-Carr) and Jack Wighton settled me in and we’re all in the same boat, coaches and staff included, we all had to sacrifice something and we did it for the love of the game and the biggest thing now is to lift the trophy and make it all worth it.”

The Kangaroos have waltzed their way into the last four with ease but the game with the Kiwis at Elland Road on Friday (Saturday AEDT) represents their first challenge of the tournament.

Veteran Kiwis winger Jordan Rapana described this iteration of the New Zealand pack as the best he has played with.

Given the strength in depth available to Michael Maguire it would be hard to disagree.

Every forward in the Kiwis squad played in the NRL finals series with the likes of James Fisher-Harris, Joe Tapine, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Nelson Asofa-Solomona among them.

With AAP

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