Alex McKinnon has made the bold call that South Sydney need to move Latrell Mitchell to the halves if they want to avoid a repeat of their embarrassing flop in 2023. The Rabbitohs became the first team in the NRL era to miss out on the finals after leading the competition as late as round 11, with a loss to the Roosters in the final round sealing their fate.
Mitchell missed that game due to suspension, which added to the dramas surrounding the superstar fullback. The 26-year-old struggled for form after returning from a long layoff due to a calf injury, and bore the brunt of the criticism that Souths copped for their dismal fade-out.
'I WOULDN'T WATCH': Queensland great rips State of Origin change
Some have called for Mitchell to switch to the centres due to his lack of work and effort at the back. He won two premierships with the Roosters while playing centre, and has had success out wide at State of Origin and Test level.
But according to former Knights and Dragons player McKinnon, the Rabbitohs should switch Mitchell to the halves to partner Cody Walker. McKinnon told Fox Sports on Thursday that Mitchell would be better suited to five-eighth, while Walker should play halfback.
"Mitchell has long been compared to NRL legend Greg Inglis, who played most of his career at fullback but also won a Clive Churchill Medal at five-eighth," he said. "Mitchell could play the same role in attack as well as he does at fullback, provide a real physical presence in the defence line and be more efficient with his efforts. I genuinely believe Walker is one of the most natural rugby league players of the 2000s and needs to be handed the reins at halfback while he’s still at the peak of his powers so he can truly own the result each week."
McKinnon said off-season recruit Jack Wighton should play fullback, rather than at centre or back-row where he is expected to line up for the Rabbitohs. "Jack Wighton at fullback will start their sets off right and I believe this will have a huge effect their consistency and ability to win in October," he added.
Latrell Mitchell positional switch branded 'madness'
Mitchell averaged 25 games per season during his four-year stint at the Roosters, but has only averaged 16 per season at the Rabbitohs. Many have suggested the added workload of playing fullback is contributing to his injury record, and he has been called out for being out of position at the back on numerous occasions.
Discussing a potential switch in September, leading reporter Paul Crawley said it would be "absolute madness". He added: “They’ve bought Jack Wighton to play centre - they’re paying $800,000. They’ve got Campbell Graham, they’ve got Isaiah Tass. And if you want to move Latrell there and Jack back at fullback, Jack’s 31.
“It would make absolutely no sense and it would show up that they’ve got their recruitment wrong because if you’re not buying Jack to play centre, you’re not buying him to play fullback.” NRL great Gorden Tallis added: “If it was about getting him into the action, fullback would be the spot for him."
Braith Anasta said a positional switch is “not the solution”. He declared: “Whether people think he’s a centre or a fullback or vice versa, the solution is not moving him from fullback to centre."
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.