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Pre-finals break has Mitchell ready to fire

South Sydney Rabbitohs captain Cameron Murray says Latrell Mitchell will be refreshed and ready to meet arch-rivals the Sydney Roosters on Friday night after retreating to his farm in Taree for a little pre-finals R&R.

The NRL fixture, alongside the earlier NRLW Roosters-Dragons game, will be the first Rugby League matches to be played in the brand new Allianz Stadium.

All three players are members of the Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues squad but Cook – due to contracting COVID-19 – will have to leave it to Murray and Mitchell to secure the Ron Coote Cup for a fifth consecutive year.

The Cup, which celebrates Coote who won premierships with both the Rabbitohs and the Roosters, is awarded to the club with the highest aggregate from the two regular club games each year. South Sydney are ahead by 12 points courtesy of the 28-16 victory in Round Three.

Murray said Mitchell is the type of player to deliver on the big stage, rating him as “one of the best players in the comp”.

“Latrell has had a different year this year,” Murray said.

“He had that injury and then went over to America and got himself right mentally and physically.

“He’s been one of the best players in the comp I think for the last couple of months.

“It’s good for him to have a little freshen up before a couple of big games.”

Mitchell was given some time off from training to return to his cattle farm near Taree this week.

“He’s up on the farm… kicking back and having a bit of time up there,” Murray said.

“As far as I know he’ll be fit and ready to go for the clash.”

Since the one-point loss in Round 20 to the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks (21-20), the Rabbitohs have won three of the next four games with Mitchell having six try assists and scoring twice himself.

While Murray applauds Mitchell for his skills and life balance, the NSW back-rower says he won’t be resting himself in the lead-up.

“I’ve had some time off already this year, so I feel pretty fresh,” he said.

Cook has been forced to sit it out after catching the COVID virus just days before the Rabbitohs’s 20-10 win over North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville.

“The last couple of weeks has shown how important it is to get key players in the right positions to build that confidence,” Murray said of South Sydney’s recent form.

“We’ve gone from one strength to the next, when we’ve had close to our full-strength side in.

“Last week Cooky was a late scratching but Siliva (Havili) stepped up and that’s the kind of mentality we’ve got here; we’ve got faith in whoever steps in whichever position because we’ve been training with that intensity all year.

“I messaged him (Cook) yesterday and seems like he’s doing alright – obviously pretty disappointed with everything that’s happened but he’s doing the best he can under the circumstances.”

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New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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