Souths ban is ‘killing’ Latrell: Shaq Mitchell

Jasper Bruce |

Latrell Mitchell is loathing his suspension time but is still helping Souths, brother Shaq says.
Latrell Mitchell is loathing his suspension time but is still helping Souths, brother Shaq says.

It is “killing” the suspended Latrell Mitchell to watch from the sidelines as South Sydney fight to save their season, says Rabbitohs prop and brother Shaq Mitchell.

Jason Demetriou’s future seemingly hung in the balance ahead of the Rabbitohs’ last game but Mitchell was powerless to help save his coach, after being suspended for raising his forearm to the head of Warriors half Shaun Johnson a week prior.

Souths’ gallant losing performance against Cronulla was enough to spare Demetriou the axe in the side’s last start.

But the coach may not be out of the woods yet, with tough clashes against Melbourne and Penrith in the next fortnight.

Superstar fullback Mitchell is banned from both of those key games as the 16th-placed Rabbitohs go in to battle for their coach and their season.

“He’ll tell you himself, he hates watching,” older brother Shaq said of Mitchell.

“He loves playing the game, he loves jumping up with the boys.

“It’s killing him at the moment but it is what it is. He’s copped it on the chin and he’s getting us ready to ramp up and hopefully when he comes back, we’ll be flying.”

Mitchell said his brother had been “Mr Energy” around Heffron Park since receiving his ban and had been particularly supportive of stand-in fullback Jye Gray.

Jue Gray.
Jye Gray has performed impressively as stand-in fullback in Latrell Mitchell’s absence. (Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS)

The diminutive Gray impressed during the pre-season and made his NRL debut as Mitchell’s replacement in the loss to the Sharks.

“He (Mitchell) is very enthusiastic, he brings the energy. If everything starts dying down, he brings it back up,” Shaq Mitchell said.

“He’s been around the game for a while and helps Jye-Boy out. I think it’s more a fact of letting (Gray) play his game, just saying, ‘It’s good to play your game, don’t be like me, we’re two completely different players’.”

As the Rabbitohs look to revive their campaign, speculation has swirled about Mitchell returning to the centres, where he played for the Sydney Roosters in their 2018 and 2019 premierships.

Such a shift could reinvigorate Mitchell following a middling start to the year, and would allow the highly-rated Gray to stay in the side long-term.

Mitchell’s older brother did address the specifics of who should be playing fullback, but hoped there could be room for both men in the Rabbitohs’ team once Latrell returned in round 10.

“For sure (Gray) should be fitting in there,” he asid.

“Having both them in the same side is going to be very dangerous. You’ve got the power game (from Mitchell) and you’ve got the speedster (Gray) as well.”

Shaq Mitchell said it felt “awesome” to be closing in on a contract extension with the Rabbitohs, who handed him his debut as a 26-year-old two seasons ago.

“I seriously don’t want to go anywhere,” he said.

AAP