Neither Wayne Bennett nor Latrell Mitchell had anything to say following the Rabbitohs’ 26 – 12 pre-season win over St. George Illawarra Dragons.
Mitchell did some talking on the field and it would appear that he is entirely capable of playing fullback, his desired position, but one he might never have gotten to play had he stayed with Sydney Roosters.
Mitchell set up Campbell Graham in the first minute. For the game, Mitchell made 44 metres from six carries with three tackles broken.
Mitchell was cited for an air swing at a Dragons’ Corey Norman attempt to move the ball in the direction of the Bunnies’ try line.
The post-game commentary was supplied by Damien Cook.
“Plenty of the best fullbacks drop balls,” Cook said. “(It was the) first real hitout that we’ve had as a team together, 13-a-side, against opposition not just at training. I thought Latrell was really good. And he’s only going to get better from today.”
Mitchell is one of the best of the current crop. It would have been interesting to see what he could have produced had he accepted the lucrative offer Wests Tigers tabled.
There was never very much doubt that Mitchell could play any position on the field and with a few more league games under his belt to provide additional familiarity with 13-man football, there is even less doubt that Mitchell’s name might be listed alongside a Dally M at the end of the season.
It remains to be seen whether Mitchell can take Souths to the promised land, but it would seem that the club has the boost needed to deal with the Roosters.
Other than the interest the Mitchell saga supplied, the game was a typical pre-season affair.
Souths were behind by eight at the break, but they put their younger unit out for the second half. That group overtook and then outdistanced St. George, even though the Dragons left their top players out for the second half.
It is problematic to read too much into pre-season, but the Dragons showed some promise ahead of the Telstra 2020 NRL Premiership competition.
Expressing some post-game pragmatism, Dragons’ coach Paul McGregor brought up the inability of his clubs’ defensive effort with regard to the Rabbitohs’ offloads.
“What (the Rabbitohs) put on the field really had more purpose behind it,” he said. “Twenty offloads in the game, 7-1 at halftime, 13 in the second half, just showing we didn’t control possession and field position. Them big boys which they had out there just got on the front foot with us.”
Souths will get their chance to show if they have the muscle to match Sydney in the third round.