Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou has let rip at the speculation Latrell Mitchell isn't trying his best to return for the Blues after rumours claimed he wasn't wrapped up in cotton wool. Mitchell was left devastated after he ruled himself out of Game I in Adelaide after injuring his calf days out from the State of Origin opener.
Coach Brad Fittler brought Stephen Crichton into the team, but the Blues went down to a spirited Maroons outfit 26-18. The fallout has been brutal for Fittler with his selections coming under fire. Fittler also faces new pressure with Nathan Cleary ruled out due to his hamstring, Api Koroisau breaking his jaw and Cameron Murray also a doubt.
Furthermore, Mitchell hasn't yet recovered from his calf injury. The Rabbitohs fullback won't take part in the game on Saturday against the Dragons and is expected to return on June 12 to prepare for a late Origin push.
However, after he pulled out of Origin camp, TV crews reportedly saw Mitchell taking part in some light basketball games. Teammate Tevita Tatola confirmed Mitchell was with them and was in good spirits.
This sparked concerns Mitchell wasn't pushing himself to get back fit for Game II up at Suncorp on June 28. However, Mitchell's manager Matt Rose has blasted the rumours as nothing but 'pathetic'.
“I’ve never heard anything more pathetic in my life,” Rose said to The Daily Telegraph. He was watching game one at home and he was kicking a pillow, chomping at the bit, as it all unfolded. He was filthy.”
“It’s just ridiculous,” Demetriou said ahead of their game on Saturday. “Latrell was gutted to not pull on the Blues jersey. Now he’s doing everything he can to get back. Latrell’s passionate to get back on the field and to play for Freddy (Fittler) and the Blues."
Latrell Mitchell in race to be fit for Origin
Mitchell missing this week's game against the Dragons leaves Fittler in a tough spot on whether to risk the fullback as a Blues centre for the must-win game. Mitchell isn't the only concern for Fittler.
With Cleary out there has been a massive push for Broncos halfback Adam Reynolds to be given the No.7 jersey. Reynolds has seen both Maroons greats Darren Lockyer and Cooper Cronk back the idea.
"Origin is obviously as big as it gets. I f I look at the players in contention there's one guy (who) stands out that's played in multiple grand finals, won a grand final, played in a grand final at this ground, and that's Adam Reynolds," Lockyer said on Wide World of Sports' QLDER show.
Fellow Maroons great Wally Lewis agreed and said it would be "madness" for the Blues to overlook the Broncos halfback in enemy territory. Reynolds' inclusion would boost the argument for his former halves partner at the Rabbitohs, Cody Walker, to come in at No.6. Parramatta halfback Mitchell Moses is yet another strong halves candidate for NSW.
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