Latrell’s one and only spot

Latrell’s one and only spot

NICK WALSHAW

LATRELL Mitchell has credited his own self belief – and that of coach Wayne Bennett – for his stunning transformation in the South Sydney No.1 jersey saying: “I’ve always been a fullback, mate”.

Only 12 months after people first started questioning if Mitchell could even play at the back of an NRL side, the Bunnies poster boy tore apart St George Illawarra in the Charity Shield on Saturday night.

Despite only playing for the opening 40 minutes in Mudgee, Mitchell scored one try, orchestrated three more and generally looked unstoppable as the Rabbitohs surged to a 32-4 lead.

Incredibly, and in the same game only 12 months ago, the biggest question being asked was not how Mitchell would take to the new role, but if the recruited Roosters centre should even move from a spot where he had already represented NSW and Australia.

Asked about the ongoing questions, Mitchell says: “I don’t focus on the outside noise. I just want to focus on myself.

“I knew this move was going to take some time … and is going to take a long time to get used to the position. But I’ve always been a fullback, mate.

“Going through juniors I never played centre, never played five-eighth … ah, I actually played some

five-eighth but

then I came to

Sydney and moved straight to fullback.

“So it’s nothing new for me. “The workload is something I have to get used to.

“And I’ve still got a lot (more) to work on because the NRL is a lot different to playing fullback in SG Ball, under-20s and so on.”

So as for how far he can go as an NRL No.1?

“I want to be the best version of myself, that’s the best way I can put it,” he said.

Mitchell also revealed the faith of coach Bennett – when so many others were saying he would fail – had been a huge contributor to his transformation over 12 months.

“Wayne has confidence in me and he’s told me that,” the Bunnies star continued.

“And when I have the best coach in the world telling me that, it gives me motivation to want to play for him.

“That’s why players want to play for Wayne, because of the person he is.”

He also lets you play you way, right?

“Wayne puts a structure in place that gets us to points on the field,” Mitchell continued. “And then we can play our best footy.

“That gives us the indication, ‘OK we’ve got to this point now we can go play’.

“There’s a real good feeling in this club and that has a lot to do with Wayne. He sets a good example with his coaching.

“He threw in the Queensland job which gives us an indication that he’s ‘all in’ here with us.

“Wayne is working really hard with me and I’m soaking it all up.”

Mitchell also praised Rabbitohs’ No.6 Cody Walker, who scored three tries in the space of eight minutes before also being replaced at halftime in Mudgee.

“Cody’s a footballer – that’s all I can really say,” the fullback said.

“It’s a plain old statement but he is a footballer.

“He’s instinctive, knows where to be … he is the ball pretty much. “Wherever the ball gets passed, Cody’s there. I love watching him play and loved seeing those three tries.”

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I can’t wait to see what he can do this year.

If he stays fit I see him as a genuine leading Dally M contender.

His size and ball skills are unrivalled - it’s like playing with an extra 5/8 when he chimes in - but one who’s built like a second rower.

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Still coming to terms with the fact that we pinched a generational talent from the Roosters after all the players that have gone the other way. And frightening to think he is still only 23.

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Funnily enough I reckon Latrell and Cody will be sharing the Dally M points week to week so it reduces the chances of either of them actually winning the count.
Throw in Reyno, Murray and Cook and we’ll have a fair bit of spotlight sharing.

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Funny part for me is, he is an out and out 5/8… The kid will find his way there after Cody moves on/retires…

In regards to Dally M, if he plays like that most weeks, you dont have to worry about Adam, Cook, Murray or Cody taking point off him. He was best out there with daylight second

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Latrell plays like the old fashion 5/8th for mine. At least that’s what he looks like to me.
He’s proven to have great hands, great passing game and just magical (like Cody) anticipation.
It’s a timing thing and these Aboriginal boys have got it and heaps of it. They play great when there’s a structure around them while they have the freedom to play ‘what they see’.
It’s getting the best our of everyone.

Mitchell plays more like Churchill than anyone I’ve seen. By that I mean he inspires those around him and sets them up. Whilst Tedesco and Slater are/were great in running the ball, Mitchell uses it to benefit others. So he won’t score a lot of the tries or run the most metres, but his wingers in particular will. Moir, Graves, Brennan and Puren were try scoring machines in their day but Churchill was the engine room for them. So it will be for Walker, AJ, Paulo, Mansour and the centres because of Mitchell.

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Thanks for the insight as I was an VFL follower in Churchill’s day and never realised his qualities.

Latrell is the classic ‘double threat’…defenders have to worry about 1) containing him and 2) stopping him setting up a support through the line. Other players don’t present that sort of weaponry and with his size and power he’s already drawing defenders out of their defensive zones.
He has exceptional ball skills but at the same time is an awesome power runner. That’s a formidable combination in a fullback who has it in his game to pop up anywhere.

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All true & Trell has started 2021 In brilliant attacking form. My concern revolves around is positional play in D & how he handles the high balls that most surely will come. I’m not death riding him, on the contrary I’d like to see him rated the best FB but I think to do that he needs to successfully address these. I think last season showed some deficiencies in these areas & I’m not sure that I saw improvement in the Charity Shield, albeit he only played the first half and he will have plenty of opportunity during the season to showcase his defense as well as his attack.

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Great insight Clive and good to know. I was told at one time that Churchill only ever scored 13 tries for Souths but set up a hundred. Not sure if this is correct however it does relate to the way that Lats plays in regard to setting up those around him. Hopefully he continues to improve throughout this season and beyond.

Dally M ladder after Round 3 :

|Latrell Mitchell|Rabbitohs|7|
|—|---|—|
|Brett Morris|Roosters|6|
|Roger Tuivasa-Sheck|Warriors|6|
|Reed Mahoney|Eels|5|
|David Fifita|Titans|5|
|Tino Fa’asuamaleaui|Titans|5|
|Ben Hunt|Dragons|5|
|Kodi Nikorima|Warriors|5|
|Ryan Papenhuyzen|Storm|4|
|Daniel Saifiti|Knights|4|
|Hudson Young|Raiders|4|

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