Rabbitohs star Latrell Mitchell has ruled himself out of the State of Origin decider at Suncorp Stadium following Souths’ big win over the Eels.
The 25-year-old made a much-anticipated return on round 16 after being sidelined for 12 weeks, spending time in the US working with renowned specialist Bill Knowles on a hamstring injury.
Mitchell’s return came at the right time for the Rabbitohs, who were able to beat the Eels 30-12 on Saturday night, with many seeing his return as a potential Origin audition for the NSW Blues.
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After playing for the Blues seven times, many had scheduled Mitchell to get into the centers on Fittler’s NSW side.
But the Barnstorming No.1 had other ideas, revealing that he will take himself out of the Origin roster race and focus on his club side in what Cooper Cronk called a “selfless act”.
“No, I think I’m going to close those headlines now, I’m going to pull myself out, I’m going to worry about Souths, focus on myself,” Mitchell said on Fox League’s Super Saturday coverage.
“They have a really good team there, good luck to Burton in the centers and give Crichton a chance, make him bleed and I just want to really focus on South Sydney and make myself and myself good for the back end of the season. “
Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou supported his star fullback’s decision.
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“I’ll let him have those conversations with Freddy. It’s just exciting to have him back in a red and green jersey and I’m looking forward to the end of the year,” said Demetriou.
“I’m not one to say you can’t play for the Blues. That’s up to him and him alone … he’s a big boy and he makes his own decisions.”
Meanwhile, Rabbitohs teammate and Blues hooker Damien Cook explained that he was proud of Mitchell making the tough decision.
“I’m proud of him, he’s put in a lot of work, been out of the game for a long time and proved right…he puts this club first and as a South Sydney man I’m proud to hear that ‘ said Cook.
“Even though he is excellent on that podium and deserves to be there. Injuries have stopped that this year, but he puts the club first, which is huge for us and very proud of him.”
“He would have known before the game that this is where he is, he’s been out for so long with a hamstring injury and had to put in so much work to get back,” Marshall said.
“So I think for themselves and in the long run this season, the best decision is to stick with it, go to the Origin area where the pace of the game is so much faster.
“He just got back and played an 80 minute performance in the rain, that all plays a part and to get to that level it’s a big question.
“But at the same time he just stopped it and stopped all talk about it, he was even talking about the other guys who deserve the jersey, he said Burton deserves it, Crichton deserves it, you know, that’s where he is.
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“I know Latrell on a personal level and he is packaged differently than what people see him on the pitch. Off the pitch he is a very smart man and a very good person, I thought he showed maturity to just come out and saying that and I’m really proud of him for making that decision.”
Fox League’s Cooper Cronk explained that the decision was “selfless” and Mitchell hopes to repay the Rabbitohs after last year’s big loss.
“A difficult decision to do that, very selfless of him. He has no doubt that he gives the club more love and gratitude for what they give him,” said Cronk.
“As for going to the US to rehabilitate his body and the time to do it, and you have to remember that he missed last year’s back end and the finals. If he had played they might have won .” the grand final.
“So there is a little bit in the back of Latrell’s mind, on the other hand you have to remember that there are other players who have done this. Jamie Lyon has chosen not to play representative football before and that is their absolute choice. not to do that.”
But Cronk explained that an Origin decider is a rare moment in a rugby league player’s career, adding to the scope of the big decision.
“But on the other hand, from my own personal position, I would come out of retirement for an Origin decider, as big is this moment as an NSW or Queensland player,”
“A decision on state of origin at Suncorp is one of the rarest moments you will ever experience in your football career, so it comes in two parts, absolutely kudos to Latrell for making that decision, respect for the players who made it did so well in game II.
“But on the other hand, it’s a great opportunity to go from a great player to almost one of the best during your football career if you do that sort of thing in Game III deciders.”
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