Latrell Mitchell at centre of staggering call about Souths' premiership hopes

The Souths star has set tongues wagging after his eye-catching return from a lengthy injury lay-off.

Pictured here, Latrell Mitchell playing for Souths in the NRL.
Latrell Mitchell's return after two months out with a calf injury has sparked plenty of buzz about Souths' NRL premiership hopes. Pic: Getty

The return of Rabbitohs superstar Latrell Mitchell can help the Bunnies take their place in rugby league history by winning an NRL premiership from outside the top four. At least that's the opinion from the panel on NRL 360, who agree that Mitchell has the ability to help South Sydney pull off what only two other teams in the history of first grade rugby league in Australia have managed to do.

Since the game's inception in Australia in 1908, the Brisbane Broncos (1993) and the Canterbury Bulldogs (1995) remain the only first grade teams to have won a premiership after finishing the regular season outside the top four. Should the sixth-placed Rabbitohs qualify for the finals, they will likely have to follow suit if they hope to taste grand final success.

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Mathematically, the Rabbitohs (26 points) are still a chance of leapfrogging the Warriors and Storm (both 30 points) - who occupy third and fourth place respectively - but they would likely need to win all four of their remaining games and hope other results go their way. With Mitchell making a triumphant return last round after being out for two months with a calf injury, there is a growing sense that something special is brewing at the Bunnies though.

Mitchell's comeback game - albeit against the last-placed Tigers - saw him register 163 running metres, seven tackle busts and three offloads in an impressive outing that also included two vital defensive stops against the much improved cellar dwellers. NRL 360 host Braith Anasta said the Souths fullback was the "difference" between the two sides, before veteran league reporter Phil Rothfield predicted that he could lead the Rabbitohs to a premiership even if they finish outside the top four.

Latrell Mitchell's return is enormous for South Sydney

Fellow panelist and rugby league reporter Brent Read added: “I think they can with him. Rugby league is better when he’s playing and playing well, I think they are the one side that can potentially finish outside the four - maybe the Cowboys as well - and make a real charge, because when he’s on, they can beat anyone."

Three-time premiership winner Gorden Tallis agreed that with a fresh and firing Mitchell spearheading their charge, anything was possible for the Bunnies. “There’s no doubt when they go on a run, they’ll go on a run so they’re probably one of the only teams that I watch where I think they don’t have to finish in the top four to win the comp,” Tallis said.

Pictured here, Latrell Mitchell in his NRL comeback game against the Wests Tigers.
Latrell Mitchell was superb in his comeback game against the Tigers after being sidelined for two months with a calf injury. Pic: Getty

The Rabbitohs have four games left (against the Sharks, Knights, Dragons and Roosters) as well as a bye, with Read stating they are capable of winning all remaining matches and sneaking into the top four. Anasta said the thing that struck him about Mitchell's return was how fit he looked and the immediate impact he made for his side. The former premiership winner insisted Mitchell's combinations with his superstar teammates would only improve in the coming weeks, making the Rabbitohs a genuine premiership threat.

“He unlocks the players around him, Cody (Walker) wasn’t at his best on the weekend too, but his combination with Cody and (Damien) Cook will only get better and grow off the back of this man," Anasta added about Mitchell. "He gives them just so much confidence. I think they’ll still make a run into the finals."

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