Latrell Mitchell is a polarising figure within rugby league – but his performance against his former club the Sydney Roosters in an elimination final may have been his most important yet.
Often a hot-headed player known for involving himself in scuffles, the Rabbitohs fullback managed to stay away from the drama during his side’s 30-14 win over the Tricolours last Sunday.
In a fiery clash that saw seven players sin-binned for either foul play or melees, Latrell let his footy do the talking and helped the Bunnies through to the second week of the finals.
Speaking on the Six Tackles With Gus podcast, rugby league expert Phil Gould explained just how important the 24-year-old was in South Sydney’s triumph over their local rivals.
“You have to keep your head while those around you are losing theirs – and that’s what Latrell Mitchell did,” he said.
“He concentrated on the football and he was the difference between the two sides.
“There was no one on the Roosters side concentrating on football…and they didn’t need to do what they did physically in that game to beat South Sydney, they had the football smarts to beat them.
“Rabbitohs had a number of sin-bins themselves, both sides were retaliating.”
Victor Radley was binned twice for his involvements in some argy-bargy with his opponents, while Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Tom Burgess are facing suspension for high tackles.
Gould believes the Roosters came into the game trying to be too aggressive, despite boasting a plethora of attacking weapons that could have troubled the Rabbitohs.
“They went into the game with the completely wrong mentality,” he said.
“They had to go out and out-football South Sydney on that day.
“I reckon they made a big mistake the week before playing the way they did, and then tried to replicate that in the first 20 minutes this week, South Sydney was ready for it.
“There was no football common sense to what they were doing, and they admitted it after the game.
“If you think you’ve got to intimidate teams out of finals and Origins it’s not going to happen.
“You don’t physically intimidate people out of those types of games. You’ve got to out-football them, you’ve got to out-strategise them.”
South Sydney will take on Cronulla on Saturday night in a semi-final clash, with the hopes of booking a spot in the prelims for a fifth-straight season.