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The real reason Mitchell was dropped – two average games, not just one

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In his quiet moments, Blues coach Brad Fittler will admit that he feels sorry for Latrell Mitchell. Not because he dropped him, but because of the scrutiny and everything that he has been through. And is going through.

If you listen to those who are close to Mitchell, he is mortally wounded. Angry and confused. They will tell you he won’t play for the Blues while Fittler is coach. And they ask how long Fittler has got the job for. I’ve never heard this from Mitchell himself, but I do get the sense of real anger. The one topic the Blues management don’t want to talk about is Mitchell.

Second off night: Latrell Mitchell is sin-binned in Origin I.Credit:NRL Photos

They feel the reaction to his sacking from the NSW team for Origin II has been over the top, bordering on hysteria. It has put them at odds with his club.

The Roosters think there has been a campaign against Latrell from within the NSW Rugby League. A story on the NRL website highlighting his errors in Origin I has the Bondi club asking questions.

Queensland great Cooper Cronk went public and said the coach and senior players at the Roosters often inspire and rev up Latrell, and the same should happen in the Blues camp. That puts Cronk in conflict with Fittler, a Roosters favourite son. But one thing is certain: Latrell was out of the NSW team straight after game one in Fittler’s mind. Some older heads told Fittler to reconsider. Only Freddy will know if he did.

Mitchell was dropped because of 160 minutes of less-than-perfect football. It was not just game one. The NSW hierarchy fumed about his effort in the dead-rubber game three last year at Suncorp Stadium. It counted against him. His average match in game one this year made the Blues question his commitment and focus.

One thing I’m not sure about: whether the Blues took account of what has been going on away from the field in Mitchell’s life. Having interviewed him a number of times this year, I didn’t get the impression he was struggling. There was one press conference where he brought up issues away from football and then shut down the conversation.

Down, but not out: The Roosters believe there is an agenda against Mitchell.Credit:NRL Photos

His mum, Patricia, told me that the death of four relatives in the past two months has thrown him.
Mitchell and his family are also struggling with the assault charge against his brother, Lionel.

The charge stems from a night at the Old Bar Tavern,........

© Brisbane Times