Halfback Nathan Cleary is poised to miss State of Origin game three due to an ankle injury with Penrith medical staff expecting him to miss a month of action.
If you listen to Phil Gould, Latrell Mitchell is as good as done when it comes to State of Origin in 2019.
His cards are marked, his head’s not in the game, he’s a distraction to the ball boys.
If you watch Mitchell’s performance in Brisbane last week, it’s hard to disagree with any of it.
But 11 years ago, a similar firestorm was about to burn.
In Game 1 of the 2008 series, Mark Gasnier gave Greg Inglis the most torrential bathing of his young career. It was the master versus the apprentice and the master came up trumps and then some. The novice had no answers to the proven marksman and his clinic of world-class centre play.
Three weeks later, everything changed.
At Suncorp Stadium in Game 2, Inglis delivered one of the dominant performances in Origin history. Go back and watch the highlights. It was the GI show. Steve Turner and Gasnier are still picking grass from their teeth all these years later.
It was a performance rich with triumph and jubilation. The kid was apparently shown up in Game 1. His hype was suddenly unwarranted. Cue the comeback of all comebacks and the rest is history.
Fast forward to the present day and Latrell Mitchell apparently doesn’t like comparisons with the great GI. Sadly for Latrell, we haven’t seen a more dominant young centre since Inglis broke ribs and scored tries for fun in the late 2000s.
The comparisons were always going to come.
While his performance was less than flat in Game 1, history shows us that great players do not stay down for long. If he is picked – and he absolutely should be – Mitchell will terrorise Queensland in Perth.
Tom Trbojevic will also add spark and nous to the Blues backline. Whether he plays centre or wing is up for debate, but he’ll make a difference regardless.
Matt Lodge must also make his debut, in place of the injured David Klemmer. A brief interview with Jharal Yow Yeh for the Broncos’ internal social media channel made this a matter of urgency.
When asked who would win Game 1, Lodge told the camera that not only would the Blues win, but that he also hoped two of his Broncos teammates (who would run out in Maroon) would be “folded” by another Bronco in Blue.
This kind of behaviour is invaluable in Origin.
It’s also the kind of arrogance that a refreshed and rejuvenated Latrell Mitchell will display towards his foes at the futuristic Optus Stadium.
The great GI showed us as much all those years ago.