NSW called out over 'ridiculous' stance on Latrell Mitchell amid calls for Origin recall

Mitchell's commitment to the Blues has previously come into question.

Veteran NRL reporter Paul Crawley says it's "ridiculous" to question whether Latrell Mitchell is playing well enough to earn himself a State of Origin recall for NSW, and lashed reports that Blues officials still aren't convinced of his commitment. The superstar fullback was outstanding in a man-of-the-match performance in South Sydney's 46-12 thrashing of the Titans on the Gold Coast.

Mitchell had a hand in just about everything good that the Rabbitohs did as he helped the Bunnies move off the bottom of the table. Mitchell scored the first try for the visitors, played a key role in three others and made four tackle busts in a brutal display of attacking footy. And his defence was just as good, with the 26-year-old making a couple of try-saving tackles when the game was on the line.

Pictured right is Latrell Mitchell with the Rabbitohs and with the NSW Blues in State of Origin on right.
Latrell Mitchell is being backed to earn a State of Origin recall for NSW off the back of his superb form for South Sydney in the NRL. Pic: Getty

As far as State of Origin auditions go, it couldn't have gone much better for Mitchell. Blues coach Michael Maguire reportedly left the Rabbitohs superstar out of his squad for Game I due to reservations about how committed he was to NSW. There was a suggestion Mitchell felt he owed it to Souths to try and dig his club out of a hole after their shocking start to the season, and reports emerged last week that NSW officials want Mitchell to publicly declare his commitment to the Blues' cause.

But with Maguire looking for a new centre after Joseph Suaalii's four-game ban for the high shot on Maroons fullback Reece Walsh in Game I, calls have been growing louder for Mitchell to be recalled to the Blues side. Bradman Best, who starred in Game III last year, is nearing a return from injury, and Sharks centre Jesse Ramien is another centre in contention after a strong showing against the Broncos.


However, the consensus from most fans and analysts is that Maguire would be crazy not to pick Mitchell. And Crawley said his performance on the weekend should leave the Blues coach with absolutely no doubts. "Name another contender to replace Joseph Suaalii who made a bigger impact over the round," Crawley wrote for Fox Sports.

"If you are being fair dinkum Mitchell smashed the argument out of the park in the thumping 46-12 win over the Titans, where he was the best player on the field by a country mile. I had to laugh when I then read a story after the game that Blues officials still want to know if Mitchell is fully committed before his selection will be given serious thought.

"Someone needs to remind those officials the Blues lost game one 38-10 and are coming off back-to-back series defeats. If they don’t pick Mitchell you can guarantee Billy Slater won’t be complaining, and neither will Val Holmes who would have to mark up against Latrell."

Crawley said the Blues needed to stop questioning Mitchell's commitment to Origin and focus on winning Game II at the MCG on June 26 to keep the series alive. He insists Mitchell is key to the Blues' hopes in a stance echoed by rugby league 'Immortal' Andrew Johns over the weekend.

"Latrell just has to come in – there are no ifs or buts," Johns told The Sunday Footy Show. "There's all rumours floating around that something happened pre-camp and he wasn't talking to Madge or didn't turn up or something. Who cares? Just get him in there. He's a serious X factor and he just destroyed (the Titans).

"It's just got to be him and Stephen Crichton in the centres... Whatever's happened in the past (with Blues coach Maguire), you've got to mend that or sort that out. We all know Latrell's a big personality but you've got to manage personalities. That's the job of the coach."

Pictured left to right are Michael Maguire, Latrell Mitchell and Andrew Johns.
Andrew Johns has urged NSW coach Michael Maguire to pick Latrell Mitchell in his Blues Origin side despite any differences they may have had in the past. Pic: Getty

Mitchell's former teammate at the Roosters, Luke Keary, backed calls for Mitchell's Origin recall and said the Rabbitohs superstar is the type of player that can lift a side. The 26-year-old is also yet to lose an Origin series he's been part of with the Blues. "I’ve stood next to him in some big games, two grand finals," Keary said of Mitchell.

"Whether he’s in form, out of form, playing fullback, in, out, whatever people say about him. If he lines up in an Origin game I can guarantee you the blokes standing across from him and next to him, he puts belief in the people around him. He can come up with massive plays at different times and he’ll turn up. Whatever mindset he’s in. He’ll turn up for NSW."