Wayne Bennett urged to backflip and make game-changing call on Latrell Mitchell at Souths

Mitchell showed how good he can be at centre in State of Origin 2.

Gorden Tallis and Braith Anasta have called on Wayne Bennett to make Latrell Mitchell's switch to the centres permanent when he takes over at South Sydney in 2025. Mitchell was at his devastating best while playing left centre for NSW in State of Origin 2, but will move back to fullback for the Rabbitohs on Thursday night against the Eels.

There was a chain of thought that former Souths coach Jason Demetriou was considering moving Mitchell to centre and playing young gun Jye Gray at fullback earlier this year. But Demetriou was sacked not long after, and interim coach Ben Hornby was forced to keep Mitchell at No.1 because Gray got injured.

Latrell Mitchell and Wayne Bennett.
Will Wayne Bennett be tempted to move Latrell Mitchell to the centres in 2025? Image: Getty

The knock on Mitchell over the last few years has been a perceived lack of effort and involvement at fullback, and he's often found out of position in defence. He doesn't get his hands on the ball nearly as much as the game's top fullbacks, and relies on producing big, flashy plays when he decides to chime in.

The 27-year-old showed how dominant he can be at centre in Origin 2, scoring a try and providing an assist for Brian To'o. And the sparkling display has rekindled debate about whether Mitchell should also be playing centre for Souths.

Jye Gray in action for Souths.
Jye Gray has filled in admirably for Latrell Mitchell at fullback. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

“I think Latrell’s the best centre in the world and he proved that last Wednesday night,” Tallis said on NRL 360 on Wednesday night. “Stephen Crichton has got that mantle at the moment but if Latrell comes back - they say that he touches the ball the most.

“You don’t want him doing those nothing runs. You want him getting quality ball. Latrell with quality ball having eight runs, he can have a bigger impact on the game than what he does (at the moment).”

But Hornby said earlier on Wednesday: “Latrell is our best fullback, it’s that simple. If you look at his stats since he came back from suspension, they would be equal – if not better – than any other fullback in the comp.

"We have to look at what he’s doing in that position, not just centre. He can pop up everywhere at fullback and he’s been having three and four try involvements every game since his comeback."

But Anasta rebuffed that argument, saying: "It’s about the quality of touch. You want him touching the ball at the right time and I’ve said it a lot at the right space of the field – in the 20 metre zone, in the attacking zone. You want him getting quality ball when he’s fit and he’s not tired and he’s got plenty of energy and he’s the most potent player in the game.”

James Hooper pointed out that Bennett helped mould Mitchell into a fullback when he moved from the Roosters to Souths in 2020, and might not want to backflip on that. “I think what State of Origin showed us as well is that the time he has spent at fullback has improved his ball-playing out of sight – he’s so much silkier,” Hooper said.

Wayne Bennett and Latrell Mitchell at Souths in 2020.
Wayne Bennett brought Latrell Mitchell to Souths to play fullback in 2020. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

“His presence on that edge was immediately causing concern for Queensland and it would be the same at cub level. He’s such a dominant figure. You know what he can do with the ball and he’s destructive when he runs. I think he’s better in the centres.

“Don’t forget Wayne was the one who developed him into a fullback as well. When he shifted across from the Chooks, he’d only been a centre until then. There was a lot of debate when he initially signed and began feeling his way as a fullback perhaps it wasn’t his best position. And then he really dominated and went on a run and made that grand final and so he solidified it. I would be thinking Wayne likes Latrell as a fullback.”


Anasta suggested Bennett was the man for the job if anyone could convince Mitchell to switch back to centre - where he won two premierships at the Roosters. “If Wayne gets in his ear and has a pre-season and says ‘this is best for you’, he’s probably the right guy to get him to makes such a significant move," Anasta said.