Latrell ‘not too sore’, as Souths hold hope for return

Scott Bailey |

Latrell Mitchell will spend a month in a moon boot before further scans on his injured foot.
Latrell Mitchell will spend a month in a moon boot before further scans on his injured foot.

Ben Hornby is adamant South Sydney’s game won’t have to change without Latrell Mitchell, with the Rabbitohs remaining hopeful their star fullback will avoid surgery.

Mitchell will miss Souths’ crunch clash against Wayne Bennett’s Dolphins on Thursday night, as he prepares to spend up a month in a moon boot due to a foot injury.

The Rabbitohs will send him back for further scans once he is out of the boot to determine if his NRL season is over, but the hope is that he will be able to return.

Latrell Mitchell suffered his foot injury in the win over Parramatta but finished the match. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

Interim coach Hornby confirmed on Wednesday that any decision would likely hinge on whether the Rabbitohs remained in the finals hunt.

Placed 13th on the ladder, Souths have won five straight games, but still likely need victory in seven of their last nine to reach the finals.

Souths have won one of four matches without Mitchell this year, and three of their last 13 without him since midway through 2022.

But for now, the signs are at least positive on Mitchell’s injury.

“He is disappointed but in good spirits,” Hornby said. 

“He doesn’t feel like it is too sore at the moment, so that is keeping him a bit more upbeat than if it was completely gone.

“We certainly hope (he can avoid surgery). We can’t predict that, and I’m not a doctor. We’ll see how the scan goes in four weeks time.”

Souths had been planning for Jye Gray to wear No.1 on Thursday anyway, giving him 80 minutes at fullback in NSW Cup last week in anticipation Mitchell would be on NSW Origin duties.

Gray is listed as 24kg lighter than Mitchell, and while he looms as an x-factor for the Bunnies he does not possess the same powerful, tackle-busting style as the regular No.1.

Jye Gray
Jye Gray will take over the fullback role for the Rabbitohs. (Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS)

“There will be subtle changes, but they won’t be massive,” Hornby said.

“Jack (Wighton) and Cody (Walker) will still do most of the ball playing, and he (Gray) will just play his role out the back and through the middle.”

“He is ready to go. He is a good young player, you’ve seen the excitement he brings to our game.”

South Sydney’s late-season finals hunt won’t change Hornby’s thinking around other key injuries.

He confirmed Campbell Graham, Lachlan Ilias and Isaiah Tass would not play again this season, while Jai Arrow is still booked in for long-awaited shoulder surgery on Friday.

Hornby admitted he had been tempted to hold off Arrow’s surgery until the Rabbitohs’ season was effectively over, but has opted not to.

“We have to do what is best for Jai,” Hornby said. 

“He’s been toughing it out. He did the injury in round one, had a bit of time off and came back. We just have to do the best thing for him.”