The real reason for Latrell Mitchell’s tears in the changeroom after Souths’ win over the Warriors on Friday night has been revealed.
As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, the emotional toll of being stuck inside the NRL “bubble” and not being allowed to see his family is what prompted Bunnies coach Wayne Bennett to console an emotional Mitchell inside the team’s inner sanctum.
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Mitchell has previously made trips to his home town of Taree during seasons but because of the strict biosecurity measures in place to protect against the spread of COVID-19, the 23-year-old has not been able to do that of late.
There was speculation Mitchell may have been upset after an incident late in the game involving Warriors player Wayde Egan, but that isn’t the case. Egan faces a one-game suspension after being charged with contrary conduct despite a lack of evidence clearing him of a possible eye gouge.
Souths CEO Blake Solly said it shouldn’t be underestimated what the players are going through to abide by the NRL’s rules — which are stricter than what the general public need to follow.
“Everyone needs to understand the pressure and restrictions all players are living with at the moment,’’ Solly told The Herald.
“The freedoms that we’ve increasingly been granted as the (coronavirus) infection rate has fallen, the players haven’t shared. Instead they are quarantined to an extent none of us faced, even at the worst of the pandemic.
“They have been compliant and made huge sacrifices to keep the industry alive, and many of us employed. That needs to be recognised and acknowledged.’’
Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph, Solly added there were no “wider issues” behind Mitchell’s tears other than the fact he has “found this period tough”.
“There’s a whole family network that players like Latrell lean on for support, which physically, hasn’t been there for some time. He’s very close to his family,” Solly said.
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Latrell Mitchell is finding his feet at fullback.Source:AAP
Bennett refused to answer questions from reporters about his post-match interaction with Mitchell following the Bunnies’ 40-12 win, saying what happens in the changeroom should stay there.
“I’m not going to tell you why. It’s got nothing to do with you to be honest with you,” Bennett said. “He may well have been (visibly upset) but it’s got nothing to do with you.
“The changeroom for me has always been a sacred place and unfortunately the game gave away a lot of our rights to those places but in my mind and in my head, it’s a place where we can go and be who we want to be and not have to answer to anyone.”
After suggestions that fans would like to know what happened to Mitchell, who had played a key role in his side’s impressive victory, Bennett bit back.
“The fans would love to know a lot of things that we don’t tell them, OK? They won’t be disappointed, they’ll understand my position on it,” he said.
When pressed on the matter by another reporter, Bennett added: “Mate, I’ve just explained to you, you keep asking the questions, I’m not going to answer them because I’ve got no more to say about it.”
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