South Sydney captain Adam Reynolds has launched an impassioned defence of NRL star Latrell Mitchell, likening media scrutiny surrounding him to that endured by Michael Jordan.
The ESPN documentary 'The Last Dance' shows Chicago Bulls legend Jordan grappling with overwhelming media attention in his final years in the NBA, and Reynolds is concerned something similar could happen with Mitchell.
It comes after day one of the resumption of NRL training in which Mitchell's physical conditioning was questioned.
Coach Wayne Bennett was on Wednesday forced to defend the fitness of his star signing, saying he would persist with Mitchell's shift from the centres to fullback.
"It took Darren Lockyer and myself 12 months to get his transition from fullback to five-eighth right and now there's a highway named after him," Bennett told Fox Sports.
Mitchell was the centre of a media storm late last month after he was found to have breached social distancing laws.
It was the latest in a string of controversies surrounding 22-year-old after his high-profile contract negotiations, the NRL advertisement and his positional move.
Reynolds said Mitchell, who has a newborn baby at home, has been "harassed" by journalists at his house and warns it could take its toll on one of the NRL's brightest stars.
"I'm not worried about him leaving the game, he's got a great family and great support around him, but at the end of the day he's a human being and if you keep knocking him, and keep chasing him everywhere he goes, it can have an effect on anyone," Reynolds said.
"It happened to Michael Jordan and he's at the top of the pinnacle of all sports.
"Latrell is a young kid, yeah he's made some mistakes but he's coming in here all bubbly and he's constantly scrutinised by the media, which I think is unfair."
Reynolds said while he understands the young Test and Origin representative is a high-profile player, he believes Mitchell deserves space and privacy in his own home.
"If it was another player in his situation they wouldn't be on the front page of the paper, it's just because his name is Latrell Mitchell," Reynolds said.
"I don't think it's fair that journos or whatnot turn up to his door and harass him at his family home."