Latrell Mitchell has had to deal with Greg Inglis comparisons his whole career.
It’s a big reason why you’re unlikely to see the Sydney Roosters centre in South Sydney colours any time soon.
Mitchell, who is free to hit the open market from November 1, has recently been linked with a move to the Bunnies, a notion which has since been denied by all parties.
But the man himself has admitted there’s little appeal in walking in the shadows of the man he grew up idolising, comfortable with the idea of creating his own legacy across town at the Roosters instead of constant comparisons to Inglis.
“I don’t know where it came from,” Mitchell said of talk linking him to Souths.
“I guess with GI retiring and South Sydney needing a centre … But GI has done what he has done at Souths and I have a chance to do my own thing at the Roosters and not just follow his footsteps. If I’m being honest I haven’t spoken to anyone over there.”
Mitchell has sat back and watched with pleasure as many have tried to guess his next move when he comes off contract at the end of 2020.
But surprisingly, the constant speculation is something he’s enjoyed.
“I don’t not like it,” Mitchell said with a wry smile.
“Any publicity is good publicity, right? But just for me I felt as though, all that stuff was hyping it up. I didn’t mind it because I knew it wasn’t true. Sometimes the less you say the more people want to know. I was pretty honest with Robbo and told him where I was at. Whatever happens, happens, I guess. It’s a business. But at the same time I want to be happy too.
“Money doesn’t bother me. It’s in the game and it comes with it, but I want to be a good person. I don’t want the money to get to my head. I don’t want to let the fame or the limelight get to me. I know if I let it get to my head, my Mum and Dad are pretty good at knocking me down a level. My partner is pretty good at doing it as well. I muck around with her a bit, but she brings me back down.”
The breakdown in relationship with his former manager, and the speculation around Mitchell’s future, left Blues coach Brad Fittler concerned about the mindset of his biggest attacking weapon leading into NSW’s Origin defence.
However Mitchell allayed those concerns in a phone call a few weeks ago.
“He gave me a ring and said ‘what’s going on’,” Mitchell said.
“I told him it’s all good, it’s settling itself out (manager changeover). The Roosters have been a big help for me getting it done and I’m very grateful for what they’ve done.
“Coming into Origin I needed to have a clear mind, and that’s what Freddie said. He said I want you to have a clear mind and come in ready for a fight again. I said 'righto let’s do it'. For all that stuff to clear up before Origin is a big help.
It was in the State of Origin arena - in particular his dominance of rival Will Chambers in game one last year - that Mitchell began to tap into his true potential.
That match in Melbourne last year signalled the changing of the guard, with Mitchell going on to steal Chambers’ Australian jersey and his mantle as the best centre in the NRL.
But on the eve of his second Origin series appearance, Mitchell has sent an ominous warning to the Maroons with what is still to come.
Match: Maroons v Blues
Game 1 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
- Nine Network
“I don’t feel I’ve hit my straps yet to be honest,” he said.
“I feel like I’m in and out of games and haven’t found that consistency yet. It’s a mentality thing. I need to get the best out of myself. It’s a hard thing to say.
“Sometimes the way the game unfolds, I’m just trying to find my way in the team and find what I can do to help the team. That consistency I haven’t found yet.”
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