Latrell apologises as Wighton rallies struggling Souths

George Clarke |

Souths fullback Latrell Mitchell has expressed regret after a costly outing against the Warriors.
Souths fullback Latrell Mitchell has expressed regret after a costly outing against the Warriors.

Jack Wighton insists Latrell Mitchell still has a desire to play in the NRL as under-fire South Sydney coach Jason Demetriou rolls the dice on debutant Jye Gray with his job under increasing scrutiny.

Wighton was reluctant to discuss Mitchell, who has been suspended for three weeks to leave Demetriou short of star power heading into a run of games against Cronulla, Melbourne and Penrith.

Rabbitohs utility forward Siliva Havili revealed on Tuesday that the fullback had apologised for his latest brain snap, after using an elbow in a tackle with Shaun Johnson in Souths’ rudderless 34-4 loss to the Warriors on Saturday.

News of Mitchell’s apology came less than 24 hours after Phil Gould had questioned whether the suspended fullback retained the thirst to play in the NRL.

Wighton played down those concerns before refusing to answer questions about Mitchell, who ran with the reserves as Gray took over fullback duties ahead of Saturday’s clash with the Sharks.

“Of course he wants to play the game, but I’m not here to talk about Latrell,” Wighton said.

“If you want to ask Latrell questions, you talk to ‘Trell’, sorry.

“It’s not my place … I’m here to talk about me and what I can do for the team.

“I am a mate, and a mate protects a mate by not talking about him.”

Jack Wighton and Latrell Mitchell.
Jack Wighton and Latrell Mitchell savour the victory over Canterbury in round four. (Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS)

Veteran Damien Cook has lost his starting hooker spot as Souths bid to arrest their 1-4 start when they take on Cronulla. 

Cook has been ousted by Peter Mamouzelos, while Tyrone Munro returns to the wing from a shoulder injury.

Mamouzelos has played only eight first-grade games but has long been viewed as the club’s long-term rake.

Gray will make his debut in Mitchell’s No.1 jersey after the latter expressed his frustration at letting his teammates down once again.

“Latrell has addressed that,” Havili said.

“He’s owned his actions … he was definitely apologetic for what’s happened.

“There are a lot of things that go on around Latrell. He’s a big name in our game and one of the best in our game, so anything he says, we listen to.”

Jye Gray.
Jye Gray looks for a gap during the Rabbitohs’ Charity Shield win against the Dragons. (Steven Markham/AAP PHOTOS)

Gray will be handed a baptism of fire at the hands of Cronulla, who come into Saturday’s meeting fresh off a bye.

The cards could not have fallen any worse for Demetriou as he battles for his job.

But Wighton insisted the Bunnies had not given up on their coach as they bid to drag themselves out of the mire.

“We’ve all got his back,” Wighton said.

“No one likes losing. We’re just in one of those patches, but we’re looking forward.

“We’ve got his back, and everyone in that building has each other’s backs.”