‘I was so wrong’: Andrew Johns takes back Latrell Mitchell criticism
WRITTEN BY ED CHISHOLM
Andrew Johns has been previously critical of the Rabbitohs playing Latrell Mitchell at fullback, but the immortal great admits he was wrong.
The polarising South Sydney star has been instrumental in his sides’ form throughout their recent five-game winning streak but was devastatingly ruled out for the season last weekend with a hamstring tear.
The Rabbitohs will now enter the final month of the regular season with either Corey Allen or Alex Johnston playing the custodian role as they prepare an assault on the 2020 premiership after recovering from a slower start to the year.
Last week’s resounding 38-0 win over premiership heavyweights Parramatta has many salivating over the Rabbitohs’ form going into the finals.
However, Johns believes without their star man at the back, a shock premiership this year is too big a task for Wayne Bennett’s men.
“I don’t think they can win it without Latrell,” Johns told Wide World of Sports ’ Freddy and The Eighth.
"With Latrell, they were a rough chance because if you got them on a night where everything stuck, you couldn’t beat them.
"Their middles are going better now, their forwards – that was the knock on Souths, their forwards are going a lot better.
“But without Latrell, they come back to the field.”
Sitting alongside Johns, NSW Origin coach Brad Fittler agreed: “He’s your best strike player, your best player. I can’t remember a team ever winning a grand final without their best player.”
Mitchell’s sour exit from rivals the Roosters at the start of the year and subsequent signing with the Rabbitohs created plenty of drama, with eyebrows being raised when Bennett deemed Mitchell would wear the number one jersey this season.
Though he played fullback at junior level, Mitchell is an incumbent Kangaroos centre, while he’s starred at Origin level on the edge for NSW in the past as well.
Johns was one of the key figures to criticise South Sydney and Mitchell over the touted move at the time, arguing the 23-year-old didn’t possess the hard-working and energetic attributes asked of fullbacks in the modern game.
But the former Knights great has now swallowed his medicine.
“I said at the start of the year he was a centre – I was so wrong,” Johns admitted.
"He was coming into great form at fullback.
“He looked fit, physically and mentally… well done Latrell, he proved me wrong.”