Three-game ban for Mitchell as heat ramps up on Souths

George Clarke |

Latrell Mitchell copped a three-game ban after being placed on report twice against the Warriors.
Latrell Mitchell copped a three-game ban after being placed on report twice against the Warriors.

Latrell Mitchell will be rubbed out of the most crucial juncture of South Sydney’s season after accepting a suspension, heaping more pressure on under-fire coach Jason Demetriou.

Fullback Mitchell was placed on report twice in the Bunnies’ 34-4 loss to the Warriors on Saturday and was charged for using his elbow to fend off Shaun Johnson.

Rather than fight the grade-two dangerous-contact charge and risk further suspension, Mitchell has taken an early guilty plea and accepted a three-game ban.

He will sit out games against Cronulla, Melbourne and Penrith, with rookie Jye Gray expected to be handed the No.1 jersey in his absence.

Mitchell wasn’t charged for a lifting tackle in the same game on Tohu Harris, with NRL head of football Graham Annesley revealing the South Sydney player had been given a “concerning act notice”. 

“Latrell has been issued with a concerning act notice for that type of action,” Annesley said.

“It didn’t warrant a charge because of the action that he took to avoid it turning into something that could’ve been much worse.”  

Demetriou described Mitchell’s behaviour as “stupid” on Saturday and now faces the most testing period of his NRL coaching career without his most influential player.

The Souths coach is under increasing pressure after a 1-4 start, compounded by the side missing the finals in 2023 after leading the competition through the first 11 rounds. 

Jason Demetriou
Jason Demetriou has endured a tough start to the season with the Rabbitohs. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

Melbourne great Cameron Smith said on Monday the Souths squad were clearly “unsettled” and were playing below their ability.

“If you line (Souths’ list) up against any other team in the comp, they’re just not playing anywhere near their capabilities,” Smith said on SEN1170.

“You need all 17 players on board with what your coach is wanting to do.

“If you have a couple of players not wanting to be a part of that, then it’s a struggle. It doesn’t matter who you play against. 

“When I’m watching the Rabbitohs, who’ve got so many elite players, they are lacking energy and they look like they’re going through the motions. 

“When they’ve got the football, it’s like, ‘Well, here, pass the ball, you do it’. 

“I’ve got no faith in backing them at the moment against anyone.” 

Since May last year, when Souths sat atop the competition, the club has been beset by issues. 

In the intervening 11 months, Souths have conceded an average of 28 points per game and registered just five wins. 

Mitchell’s discipline – on and off the field – has been at the forefront. 

The fullback missed several weeks with a calf injury and was ruled out of must-win games late last season for hitting Newcastle forward Tyson Frizell with an elbow.

Demetriou’s inability to rein in Mitchell was cited as one of the main reasons club great Sam Burgess left Souths in dramatic circumstances in August to coach Super League side Warrington.

Burgess would no doubt be a contender to step in and replace Demetriou, who was handed a three-year contract extension in October, if Souths cannot arrest their alarming side.