Roosters stars urge fans to respect Mitchell
James Tedesco and Luke Keary have pleaded with Sydney Roosters fans to treat South Sydney's Latrell Mitchell with respect as his Rabbitohs teammates said their arch-rivals' booing wouldn't put him off his game.
Mitchell returned to Rabbitohs training on Monday for the first time since Thursday night's racial abuse incident at Penrith, after spending the weekend in Taree and ringside at boxer Tim Tszyu's fight in Sydney.
NSW Police are continuing investigations into the Penrith incident, which appalled the NRL and Roosters officials, with the alleged offender wearing a Tri-colours jersey at the time.
Mitchell was routinely booed and jeered last year by Roosters fans, having left the club for their arch-rivals at the end of 2019.
But Souths teammate Tom Burgess said the star fullback was too cool to be booed out of this Friday's game.
"I don't think he's too bothered about the boos. He did win them two comps," Burgess said.
"It's more of a reflection on them than him really, and that's the message that I think he has realised.
"It is part of the game, but be respectful and I think everyone will be happy."
The ill-feeling was also fuelled by Mitchell's high hit on Roosters star Joey Manu in 2021, which incurred a six-match ban and left Manu with facial injuries.
Winger Alex Johnston, who cheekily labelled the Roosters' home ground "Trellianz", rather than Allianz Stadium, due to Mitchell's stunning finals performance at the venue last season, said heckling would be water off a duck's back.
"Even though the rivalry is there, hopefully they won't boo," Johnston said.
"He's got a good head on his shoulders and he'll be turning up to play for sure."
Last week's incident has prompted fears of a repeat of an Adam Goodes situation, when the Sydney Swans star was repeatedly booed in AFL games after calling out racial abuse in 2013.
"We don't want to see that in our game," Keary said.
"I think Robbo (coach Trent Robinson) was really clear about that last week. This is a tough period for Trell. He has been part of our family here. We all do love him.
"Hopefully the game gets around him. He is going through a tough period.
"You don't want to see our Roosters fans or any other fans of the game get out and just constantly lay the boot into him, especially in this current situation."
Tedesco also backed the calls for Roosters fans to lay off Mitchell.
"All the players and officials, everyone deserves respect," Tedesco said.
"We play the game we love for the club, for our teammates and the fans. That behaviour (from last week) is inappropriate and everyone deserves respect.
"I am sure that is how the game will be played on Friday. It will be a massive atmosphere. It's a rivalry that has been going on for 100 years now."