There has been nothing but hatred between the Rabbitohs and Roosters this week leading into their do-or-die finals match, but for one small moment, there was love in the air at South Sydney training on Tuesday.
With a local community group singing John Paul Young’s Love is in the Air, Latrell Mitchell recounted how he and former coach Trent Robinson caught up for the first time in 12 months after one of the most heated nights of the year.
It came after Mitchell had spent his first night at the new Allianz Stadium copping vile abuse and endless boos from Roosters supporters with long memories.
They hadn’t forgotten how he left the club a few years ago and then ended Joseph Manu’s 2021 campaign with an ugly high shot that saw him suspended for last season’s finals.
It wasn’t a great night for Mitchell and his teammates, with the superstar fullback bashed every time he got near the ball by the same guys who he won two premierships with.
Those big hits and loud jeers stopped once the full-time whistle sounded, and Mitchell’s mind immediately went to this week’s elimination final against the same opposition.
That was until he caught up with Robinson on the field for their first meeting since that infamous night last year that saw tempers on both sides of Anzac Parade boil over.
The pair hadn’t spoken or caught up since that game, and after copping it non-stop on the field until he was eventually sent to the sin bin, Mitchell appreciated catching up with a Rooster who still loves him.
“It was a long 12 months to that point,” Mitchell said.
“There was a lot of feeling with what happened in the past.
“I was definitely grateful to be able to embrace Robbo and Nick Politis for sure.
“There’s still a lot of feeling with what I’ve been able to achieve there, and the journey I started on gave me the opportunity to be me. I was definitely grateful for that.
“It was nice to see him and have a yarn and not talk footy.
“That was the first time.
“It was nice.”
Robinson declined to elaborate on what was said last Friday, but he does hope Roosters supporters think twice about booing a guy who helped them win back-to-back premierships.
“It was obviously in context with what happened in the last game. It was our first home game and that’s where it should rest. It shouldn’t happen tomorrow,” he said.
“He’s very special to me and this club and the time we had here. It’s nice to see him and I love seeing his smile and him happy.
“He’s left a huge imprint on this team and we really care about him. My kids will still ask about Latrell and if he’s playing. He’s a real favourite.
“That should stay last week and we should move onto this week’s contest.”
It’s a shame we don’t know what was said last week, but we won’t have to wait long for one of Mitchell’s trademark one-liners.
So what is it?
“I’ll say it on Sunday when we win.”
– Martin Gabor, NCA Newswire