Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler hasn’t given up hope of Latrell Mitchell returning from a hamstring injury in time for the Ampol State of Origin series, but he has plenty of options up his sleeve if the South Sydney Rabbitohs fullback is ruled out.
Mitchell will be sidelined for eight weeks after scans confirmed he had ruptured the tendon in his hamstring during the Rabbitohs 24-12 win over St George Illawarra Dragons on Saturday, with his return not expected until Round 13.
“Just knowing how much it meant to Latrell last year to get back in the team, and how well he performed, I'm holding out that eight weeks might turn into six weeks,” Fittler told Channel Nine.
“Every player is different, we treat every player different.
“We picked Tom Trbojevic a couple of years ago... he came back (from injury) for one game, and he did so well we brought him into the (Origin) team, and he was excellent.
“Just sit back and we’ll see what happens with Latrell.”
Fittler will pick the team for Game One at Accor Stadium on Wednesday 8 June after Round 12 has finished on Sunday 29 May which leaves Mitchell having to make an earlier return than expected to have any chance of representing the Blues for the first game.
There are no shortage of replacements lining up for Mitchell’s spot including Penrith’s Stephen Crichton, South Sydney’s Campbell Graham, St George Illawarra’s Zac Lomax, Newcastle’s Bradman Best, Brisbane’s Kotoni Staggs, Canterbury-Bankstown’s Matt Burton and Cronulla-Sutherland’s Jesse Ramien. All of them have been part of NSW pathways teams or extended squads in the past few years.
“Most centres these days play left or right, so they get in those habits,” Fittler said.
“The ones at the moment who are playing on the left-hand side are Bradman Best, who's been in the junior system a long time; Stephen Crichton, who can play left...and Matt Burton is another one, who is five-eighth at the moment for the Dogs but who played centre incredibly well last year for Penrith.”
Mitchell has been one of the most popular selection amongst fans this season for the Brydens Lawyers NSW Team Picker having appeared in 82 per cent of teams, followed closely by Dally M Medallist Tom Trbojevic (73%).
The next best after that include Crichton (21%), Burton (16%), Staggs (6%), Lomax (6%), Best (4%), Graham (2%) and Ramien (1%).
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