South Sydney Rabbitohs players fear Latrell Mitchell’s early departure
Representative hooker Damien Cook feared Mitchell, who will be 30 when his current contract expires, would back his words with action about the abuse he’s receiving.
Mitchell was said to have been fine in the sheds, and over the years he had become almost immune to the vitriol aimed at him.
“So maybe that’s why he’s talking about being done by 30,” Cook said herald.
“We have a great player who puts bums on the pitches, everyone wants to see him play but when you get things like that and when it comes to picking farm or footy, those things come up.
“He is leading by example so well for indigenous culture and the young children who are coming through, it’s an absolute joke that that happened. And why?
“It’s 2023 and this is happening. This isn’t the first time Latrell has had to go through this.
“I was one of the last off the field, I caught the end. I heard what had been said and they tried to show [the fan] out of.
“I’ve seen ‘Rome’ [Luai] react to that too, and his first reaction was to turn around and support Latrell.
“Emotions are already running high in the middle of the game, and when that comment is made… [fans] We have great seats there and great access to the players so we don’t want to get to the point where we completely cordon things off so they can’t access us at all just so we’re protected.”
EGroup, which controls security at Penrith’s home compound, was investigating footage of the incident late Thursday. There have already been discussions about increasing security for players on the sidelines and reserves in the dugouts.
Penrith’s Nathan Cleary has played with Mitchell on NSW Origin and Kangaroos teams. He’s heard some of the abuse stories Mitchell has experienced because of his background.
Cleary winced at hearing the two words Mitchell was said to have been called with and said: “Excuse my French but that sucks. I don’t know why people still do this stuff.
“He sometimes explained little things to the boys [about what he goes through]. But half the time it’s visible to everyone anyway, either online or in games. It’s disgusting. I feel for him.
“Latrell is such a pivotal person in our game, he gets fans to watch, I always enjoy watching him, I enjoy competing against him and I enjoy playing with him.
“But for some reason people in this world want to be negative and stuff like that is ridiculous.”
Greg Inglis faced racist taunts while playing Penrith in 2018. Lifetime bans were also required at the time.
Cleary said: “No matter where it is, at no point in the game should you feel like you have the right to say things like that to a player, whether it’s an opposing player, whether you don’t like them, whether your Team doesn’t play well – one can criticize their game, but everything racial totally crosses the line. Hopefully they never come back here again.”
South Sydney chief executive Blake Solly had been hoping for a win to celebrate Mitchell’s 50th game for the club.
“It’s so unfortunate. It’s 2023 and we’re still having these conversations and still trying to get people to change their behavior and attitudes,” Solly said.
“Latrell was okay in the sheds but it’s something Latrell has faced all his life, he’s learned to be responsive and resilient and while that doesn’t make that acceptable or appropriate he’s tough and happy, to stand up for yourself. ”
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