Latrell Mitchell will line up for the Rabbitohs on Thursday night, with head coach Jason Demetriou confirming the superstar fullback has overcome a knee issue.
The 25-year-old struggled with a PCL injury in the clash with Cronulla on Saturday night, but managed to see out the game and help steer South Sydney to an important 27-18 victory on the road.
Latrell didn’t train on Tuesday, leading to plenty of speculation surrounding his spot in the side against Penrith, with young gun Blake Taaffe potentially filling in at fullback.
But in a massive boost for the cardinal and myrtle, Latrell has been cleared and will take the field at BlueBet Stadium in front of a hostile crowd.
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“He’s good – there was a plan to keep him off his legs until today,” Demetrious said.
“He got out there, he is flying and looks good – as expected, he will play tomorrow.
“He’s a big in – we want to keep him playing, but we weren’t going to risk him either.
“He has pulled up fine, we’re really happy with how he got through the second-half, so there wasn’t any doubt.”
Souths will be without key forwards Jai Arrow and Tevita Tatola for the blockbuster clash with the reigning premiers, but neither player are expected to miss an extended period.
Latrell lit the fuse on Tuesday with some comments about the Panthers, claiming there were ‘cracks in the windscreen’ after losing the likes of Api Koroisau and Viliame Kikau, as well as coming up short against Brisbane in the opening round of 2023.
Panthers coach Ivan Cleary didn’t buy into the comments from the NSW and Australian star and believes his side will bounce back sooner rather than later.
“I don’t know, you’d have to ask Latrell… I don’t think so,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
“I think we’ve had a really good pre-season. It’s been short, we’ve done plenty of things right, especially last week but not really to the standard we want.
“The Broncos were good enough to win that game but other than that… no [there are no cracks]. I don’t know if it’s a [quick] fix but more evolution really.
“Everyone’s keen to get their first win and we’re no different, we want to get our season up and running.”
Penrith struggled in their 13-12 loss to the Broncos, with some clear communication issues leading to an on-field spat between Jarome Luai and Jaeman Salmon after the full-time siren.
Demetriou however is cautious of writing off the back-to-back champions, especially on their home turf.
“He [Latrell] has spent some time with the boys over there in the World Cup tour and he’s having a bit of fun with them,” Demetriou said.
“We’re under no illusions how tough the game is going to be. They’ve lost a game at home in Round 1 – when was the last time they lost one at home?
“There’s a long way to go before we start talking about chinks in what is a very impressive armour.”
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