Josh Aloiai at centre of ugly NRL storm after 'liking' comment about Latrell Mitchell

The Sea Eagles prop has found himself at the centre of a storm after his actions on social media.

Pictured left to right, NRL stars Josh Aloiai and Latrell Mitchell.
Josh Aloiai said he didn't mean to like an unsavoury comment about Latrell Mitchell on social media. Pic: Getty

Manly Sea Eagles forward Josh Aloiai has been forced to respond after being called out for 'liking' an unsavoury social media comment about NRL rival, Latrell Mitchell. The Sea Eagles prop found himself at the centre of a storm after reacting to a comment from a user about an Instagram video featuring Mitchell and his younger brother, Shaqui.

The Mitchell brothers are set to run out together for the Indigenous side in Friday night's All Stars game against the Maori squad in Townsville. The proud Indigenous brothers featured in a video posted on the NRL on Nine Instagram account, in which they give a grim account of the racist abuse they suffered while growing up and playing footy in Taree, on the NSW Mid North Coast.

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“People driving past in their cars yelling out ‘black this’ and ‘black that’,” Latrell revealed in the clip. “Other examples, we were at games, nine and 10-year-old kids playing for Taree Rovers, parents yelling out and being racist because we were carving their kids up.”

Mitchell said the racism they had to endure as Indigenous kids was "scary" and gave a confronting account of instances where they feared for their safety. “We used to have to sprint home, close the curtains and lock the doors. Stuff like that just makes you feel inferior.”

Aloiai has come under fire after he liked a post that dismissed Mitchell's struggles, with one user commenting: “Biggest sook an [sic] always plays the racism card". The Manly prop insists he was just scrolling through his Instagram feed and didn't mean to like the inflammatory comment about Mitchell. When the Manly player was made aware of his 'like', he quickly moved to undo his actions.

“I was looking through Instagram as I normally do,” Aloiai said in a statement via the Sea Eagles. “I saw a post from Latrell, and I was going through it when I accidentally liked a comment as I was scrolling. When I was made aware of this, I immediately deleted it. If anyone saw it, I would like to say that it was certainly not intentional at all.”

Seen here, Josh Aloiai in action for Manly in the NRL in 2023.
Josh Aloiai is seen here in action for Manly in the NRL in 2023. Pic: Getty

Manly and South Sydney set to meet in season opener

The incident comes after Manly's thumping 68-6 win over the Rabbitohs in a trial match last Saturday - a game neither Aloiai or the Mitchell brothers played in. Aloiai is also being rested for Manly's first Pre-season Challenge Cup game against the Roosters on Saturday, perhaps with one eye on Manly's season opening match against South Sydney in Las Vegas next month.

With the Mitchell brothers featuring in Friday night's All Stars clash, neither will take part in the Rabbitohs' Charity Shield match against the Dragons on Saturday night. Jason Demetriou's Rabbitohs side will also be without the injured Cody Walker and Campbell Graham, who has been sidelined for at least six months with a sternum injury that requires surgery.

South Sydney will also be missing big-money recruit Jack Wighton, who won't feature against Manly in Las Vegas as the 30-year-old serves a suspension from his final game for the Raiders last year. The Rabbitohs and Sea Eagles have both begun preparing for the smaller-than-usual ground they will be playing on at Las Vegas' Allegiant Stadium, where the width of the field will be down from 68m to 63m and the length 94.5m - well short of the usual 100m.

Both the Rabbitohs and Sea Eagles have cut down the size of their training fields to get accustomed to the challenging conditions in Las Vegas. "It will definitely make a difference because you have less room in attack," Manly five-eighth Luke Brooks said. "It does become more of a forwards game, because they obviously have less room to go around them. You've definitely got to go through them."

Manly and South Sydney will kick off the NRL's historic season opening double-header in Las Vegas on March 2 (March 3 AEDT). The Sydney Roosters will take on last year's grand finalists the Brisbane Broncos in the second match.

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