South Sydney superstar Latrell Mitchell has poured his heart out about a ""mentally draining" 2023 and vowed to return to the NRL bigger and better this season. Mitchell and the Rabbitohs endured a tumultuous 2023 season in which they made unwanted history after missing out on finals footy, despite leading the competition at round 11.
Injury ruled the Rabbitohs fullback out of the Blues' State of Origin series defeat to the Maroons, and the 26-year-old faced scrutiny when he returned to action after patchy form for the Bunnies. Mitchell's season ended early due to a suspension against the Knights in the second round of the regular season.
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The dramas at South Sydney were compounded when club legend and assistant coach Sam Burgess walked away after questioning the standards at training. He suggested stars such as Mitchell and Cody Walker were being afforded preferential treatment by the club's coaches, before ultimately quitting before the end of the regular season.
Mitchell also had a court case alongside close mate and new teammate Jack Wighton hanging over his head. The pair ultimately had charges dropped against them and were cleared after a police officer admitted to providing false evidence to court over their arrest in Canberra in February last year.
Latrell Mitchell considered quitting NRL
The Rabbitohs fullback admitted he considered walking away from the sport after the toughest year of his life but is feeling refreshed and re-energised ahead of the new season. Mitchell's Bunnies will fly out to Las Vegas to kick off the NRL season against Manly on March 3 (AEDT) and the fullback is keen to put the dramas of last year firmly behind him.
"I just think mentally it was definitely draining. It was getting to a point where rugby league wasn't enjoyable," Mitchell told Nine News about last season. "It was a conversation I had to have with my family and see where I was at in life and if I could potentially keep doing this (playing rugby league).
"Is it fun anymore? Can I keep putting up with people? It is what it is, but I couldn't go out of this game knowing that I didn't go out on my own terms." Mitchell has now missed out on playing finals footy for the last two seasons, with injuries and suspensions ruling him out of some big games.
Having won two back-to-back premierships with the Roosters before moving to South Sydney in 2020, the 26-year-old is determined to experience that success again with the Rabbitohs. The signing of his good mate Wighton adds even more potency to a strong South Sydney backline, with Mitchell determined to leapfrog the likes of Reece Walsh and Kalyn Ponga by becoming the best fullback in the game.
"It's time to grit the teeth and have a crack now," Mitchell said. "I just want to do my part at fullback and show everyone that I'm the best fullback in the game and go from there." It's no doubt a massive call from Mitchell but one the 26-year-old has shown the potential to back up, with few other players possessing the devastating running game that has made the Bunnies superstar almost impossible to defend at times throughout his career.
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