Tahu feared Latrell would quit over abuse

·2-min read

Knowing first hand how difficult it is to call out racism, Timana Tahu says he feared NSW Blues star Latrell Mitchell would walk away from his NRL career.

The South Sydney fullback is a lightning rod for online racial abuse but at 23 Mitchell has blazed a trail for other athletes to call out the relentless trolling.

But the fact he even has to saddens Tahu.

The former dual international and Indigenous star walked out of NSW Origin camp in 2010 after hearing assistant coach Andrew Johns use a racial slur.

The incident had a profound effect on Tahu, and now 11 years later, he says he admires Mitchell's perseverance for not only calling out the trolls but not letting it drive him out of the game.

"It's never comfortable. It's a very hard, awkward, painful experience to having to point it out and you're vulnerable because you're open to attacks," Tahu told AAP.

"We've seen recently with Latrell getting attacked ... he was in a dark spot.

"I felt like he was going to give football up.

"I could see it in his game, and the energy that he was showing, just by watching him at home.

"But for him to come out of that and play some really good football, he's an inspiration for people to go (to), you know what, it might be a little bit bad if you do point it out but you'll get out on the other side and you do have support."

In April Mitchell spoke passionately about his work as an advocate for other athletes following the arrest of two men who sent him abusive and racist messages online.

It's a heavy message for a young player to carry, but it only highlights Mitchell's bravery.

At times, the trolling has exhausted the Indigenous star but his mental strength has allowed him to return to his best for the Rabbitohs and earn a recall into the NSW Origin team at centre for game one this year.

It's the first time Mitchell has been included in the side since 2019 after he was dumped by coach Brad Fittler after game one.

And while Tahu feared he would walk away from the game altogether, Mitchell said he never thought the door was closed with the Blues.

"I had to work out myself and what I wanted to do," he said.

"I had to focus on my contract stuff with the move (to South Sydney).

"I think I made a good move to where I am now and I'm playing good footy to get picked again.

"I'm more mature I reckon. I've got a beautiful family at home and they've made me realise what I need to do and what I need to achieve with myself and my footy."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting