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Latrell Mitchell's cocky call amid concerns over smaller field for NRL in Las Vegas

The Rabbitohs and Sea Eagles are gearing up for Sunday's NRL blockbuster in America.

Latrell Mitchell has promised to bring the entertainment for fans during the NRL's Las Vegas season opener. Pic: Getty
Latrell Mitchell has promised to bring the entertainment for fans during the NRL's Las Vegas season opener. Pic: Getty

Latrell Mitchell has already lay claim to Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas after taking it upon himself to rename it 'Trellegiant Stadium'. Now the Rabbitohs fullback is issuing a warning to Sunday's opponents Manly, ahead of the NRL's season opening blockbuster in Sin City.

The smaller size of the field has dominated discussions before Sunday's Las Vegas double header, with five metres shaved off the width of a normal rugby league field due to the smaller dimensions used in the NFL. The Allegiant Stadium field is also shorter, with the usual 100 metres from tryline to tryline down to 94.5, leading to concerns that points for all sides might be hard to come by.

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Not that it seems to worry Mitchell, who does some of his best work bulldozing over the top of opponents. The Rabbitohs fullback has made a cocky promise to fans that he'll bring the entertainment factor amid suggestions the smaller dimensions will nullify the attacking flair that both sides possess.

"When I was young, I used to run around people. Now I'm 26 or 27, I just run over them," Mitchell told AAP at Fox League's launch in Vegas. "You've got to make your own space. It's a tighter game, tighter field. It will just be feeling each other's game.

"The entertainment is going to be there, it's going to be there but it's just about feeling our way through round one and getting the cobwebs off. We're buzzing. Because we get to do what we love on the world stage now. Trell-Mit has been global for a very long time and now he's here."

Latrell Mitchell and Tom Trbojevic set to lock horns

Mitchell's showdown against rival Manly fullback Tom Trbojevic is arguably the most mouthwatering match-up in Sunday's opening game. The Sea Eagles No.1 says while the size of the field could hurt the attacking stats of both sides, it's in defence where he thinks it might be trickier - with lines on the field 9.45m apart instead of the usual 10, which referees will still enforce for offsides.

Pictured left to right, Manly's Tom Trbojevic and South Sydney star Latrell Mitchell.
Manly's Tom Trbojevic and South Sydney star Latrell Mitchell talk to the NRL media before Sunday's game. Pic: Getty

"It's things like where people line up and stuff that I have to be wary of," Manly's fullback said. "But if you overthink it, it can bring you undone. We'll play the style of footy we want to play, and then get the job done."

NRL legend Cooper Cronk believes the fullback battle between Trbojevic and Mitchell will go a long way to deciding the contest. “Hard to pick a winner out of that when you’re talking about both those two guys. I’ve got a lot of high hopes for Turbo this year,” Cronk said about Trbojevic. “I think he’s had some bad luck through long-term injuries and when he seems to put it together, it’s hard to contain.

“Whereas Latrell, he seems along with Cody (Walker) to be the barometer of South Sydney. It’s an elite match-up. Not often do two personal battles determine the outcome, but whoever plays better out of those two men, I’m pretty sure will go a long way. Turbo is the key and so is Latrell.”

All four teams playing in Vegas have spent the past fortnight training on modified fields and preparing on smaller grounds while in America. Roosters captain James Tedesco - whose side face the Brisbane Broncos in the second of the double headers - has identified kicking as a huge issue in Vegas. "The kicking game is one you have to be on as a fullback," Tedesco said.

"The team rolls down the field a bit easier. The 40-20s are going to be on, so the awareness of the kicking game is probably a big one for us at the back." Tedesco admits that less space probably means less free-flowing and expansive footy but suggested that was to be expected of a round one game.

"I definitely think there probably won't be as much space, but you've just got to adapt to it," Tedesco said. "It's hard too, because it's our first game of the year. Everyone expects all these fireworks, but it's not going to be perfect."

with AAP

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