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The South Sydney Rabbitohs have revealed what caused Latrell Mitchell to break down in tears after Friday night's victory over the New Zealand Warriors.
Mitchell's sad breakdown dominated the aftermath of the Rabbitohs' win, with coach Wayne Bennett refusing to answer questions about his star fullback.
'LACKS EMPATHY': Warriors axing sparks player revolt fears
'DON’T UNDERSTAND': Latrell Mitchell breakdown exposes touching truth
There was speculation that its might have had something to do with a second half flashpoint where Mitchell appeared to be eye-gouged by Warriors player Wayde Egan, who was later charged for contrary conduct over the incident.
However, it has now emerged that Mitchell's tears stemmed from the restrictions of playing under a strict bubble imposed by the NRL, and being cut off from family, with whom he is so close.
Souths CEO Blake Solly told the Sydney Morning Herald that the media and public need to understand that many of the players are doing it tough.
"Everyone needs to understand the pressure and restrictions all players are living with at the moment," Solly said.
"The freedoms that we’ve increasingly been granted as the (coronavirus) infection rate has fallen, the players haven’t shared.
"Instead they are quarantined to an extent none of us faced, even at the worst of the pandemic.
“They have been compliant and made huge sacrifices to keep the industry alive, and many of us employed. That needs to be recognised and acknowledged."
The Rabbitohs CEO reiterated how close Mitchell was to his family and how hard he's found it without the physical support of his loved ones to lean on.
It explains why Bunnies coach Bennett refused to explain Mitchell's situation to media on Friday night, insisting that the player's privacy needs to be respected.
"He may well have been (visibly upset) but it's got nothing to do with you," Bennett said.
"The changeroom for me has always been a sacred place and unfortunately the game gave away a lot of our rights to those places but in my mind and in my head, it's a place where we can go and be who we want to be and not have to answer to anyone."
"The fans would love to know a lot of things that we don't tell them, OK? They won't be disappointed, they'll understand my position on it," he added.
Warriors coach sacked after loss to Rabbitohs
The Rabbitohs' big win over the Warriors proved the final straw for coach Stephen Kearney, who was sacked by the New Zealand side the following day.
Interim coach Todd Payten conceded that he couldn’t rule out the prospect of a Warriors player revolt in the wake of the stunning decision.
Payten compared the impact of Kearney's shock dismissal as head coach to a death in the family and described the scenes as "eerie" at the club's Terrigal accommodation.
Kearney's sacking on Saturday, six games into a renewed three-year contract, has attracted heated criticism in New Zealand from many quarters because of its ruthless nature after the team's sacrifice to quarantine in Australia away from loved ones.
Former forward Sione Faumuina slammed owner Mark Robinson in a long social media video post, for his move to axe a man admired inside team walls.
"It's selfish, it lacks empathy... the worst decisions I've ever seen made in the NRL," Faumuina said.
"If I was playing and this happened, I'd want to come home now."