Latrell Mitchell has admitted he 'burning' inside that he won't be available to help the Rabbitohs make the NRL finals after trying to get 'grubby' acts out of his game in recent years. The South Sydney fullback will sit out the next two weeks after being suspended for an ugly elbow to Tyson Frizell at the end of a nightmare performance against Newcastle.
Because the Rabbitohs have the bye in Round 26, Mitchell will serve the one-game suspension in the final round of the regular season. It means he won't be available for a blockbuster clash with arch-rivals the Roosters, in a game that could determine who makes the finals and who misses out.
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The situation is reminiscent of the huge suspension handed down to Mitchell at the end of the 2021 season for a shocking hit on former Roosters teammate Joey Manu. It meant Mitchell wasn't on hand as the Rabbitohs made their push for the finals.
Speaking on Tuesday, the 26-year-old said he's shattered he won't be squaring off with the Roosters, whom he helped win back-to-back premierships in 2018 and 2019 before defecting to Souths. The hostility between the clubs has never been more evident than in last year's finals series when the Rabbitohs famously ended the Roosters' 2022 season in an explosive showdown featuring a record seven sin bins.
"It's what people buy tickets for, to see. I put bums on seats and that's just the game that everyone wants to come and watch," Mitchell told Nine News on Tuesday. "We go back to that 'Sin-Bin Sunday'. That was just a game that you want to be a part of and everyone wants to watch and it just burns me that I can't be there to play that game.
"I'm disappointed. Not only because (I'm missing) the game but also in myself. I've worked really hard to get this stuff out of my game - them brain snaps. I've tried to mature a lot and I haven't had an incident since '21 - that incident with Joey Manu. So I've worked really hard to getting back to playing footy and enjoying it and getting that stuff out of it, the grubby stuff."
Alarming statistics come to light about Latrell Mitchell
The disparity between Mitchell's career at the Roosters and that at the Rabbitohs has never been more evident. As Alan Katzmann highlighted on Twitter on Tuesday, Mitchell played a total of 98 games while at the Roosters from 2016 to 2019 (an average of 25 per season).
However it's a very different story since he joined the Rabbitohs and moved to fullback from centre. From 2020 to 2023 with Souths he has played just 64 games (16 per season). In four years at Souths he has missed a staggering 37 games - 26 through injury, 10 because of suspension and one due to State of Origin duty. In four years at the Roosters he only missed six games (four through injury, one for a suspension and one for Origin).
The alarming statistics highlight the fact that Mitchell would probably be better suited to playing in the centres. However the Rabbitohs recently allowed back-up fullback Blake Taaffe to join the Bulldogs next season and have no plans of shifting Mitchell from the No.1 jersey.
Roosters great Braith Anasta highlighted a number of instances from the Rabbitohs' loss to the Knights in which Mitchell simply failed to show up where he should've been. The most damning incident came when the Rabbitohs made a break and Mitchell was 40 metres back downfield.
"Tell me another fullback in the game who stands still like that and doesn’t support up the middle of the ruck,” Anasta said on NRL 360. “Tell me whatever you want to tell me and he is not solely to blame, but he is the leader at that club. He is the barometer and once he starts making better decisions and wears his heart on his sleeve (they will get better).”
Latrell Mitchell is playing in his eighth season in the @NRL
His first four seasons (shown in blue) were played at the @sydneyroosters , where he won two premierships. His last four seasons (shown in green) have been at the @SSFCRABBITOHS
This table includes Round 27, 2023 pic.twitter.com/J8m2qHsRnv
— Alan Katzmann (@Katzo60) August 22, 2023
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