South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett admits he may switch Latrell Mitchell back to the centres after his fullback display in their 22-18 NRL loss to Brisbane.
A return to the centres looms for Mitchell after an underwhelming fullback display that prompted Phil Gould to claim the South Sydney recruit wasn’t ready to play NRL, let alone wear the No.1 jersey.
Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett admitted he may have to axe Mitchell at fullback for next week’s blockbuster clash against former club Sydney Roosters after the NSW representative failed to shine for the second straight match in his new position.
Mitchell showed flashes of brilliance but was ultimately shifted back to the centres with Alex Johnston finishing the game in the custodian role in their 22-18 second-round loss to Brisbane on Friday night.
Bennett admitted it may be a sign of things to come.
“We’ll sit down and have a think about it,” Bennett said when asked if Mitchell may revert back to his regular centre spot against the Tricolours.
However, Gould was more forthright about Mitchell after watching the 22-year-old manage just 74m from seven runs – along with two errors – against Brisbane.
Indeed Gould didn’t hold back, claiming Mitchell had been found wanting after leaving the star-studded Roosters in the off-season.
“I don’t think he understands what it takes to be a great footballer,” he told Nine Network.
“He’s a wonderful talent, but it’s the old adage – does the player make the team or does the team make the player?
“He is of no value to this team the way he is at the moment.
“He hasn’t got the knowledge to play fullback. He hasn’t got the intensity to play fullback so Latrell is on a real learning curve.”
Gould even suggested Mitchell’s game may fall apart entirely over the next 18 months if left unchecked.
“I am worried about Latrell and his football,” he said.
“And unless he is mentored by the right people through this period it could all come unravelling for him in the next 18 months judging by what I am seeing right now.
“He is not ready to play NRL football the way he is and certainly not to play that position (fullback).
“When people tolerate what Latrell is doing now Latrell will keep doing what he is doing now – someone in his life has got to pull him into line.”
But Bennett said he had faith in Mitchell making it as a fullback – eventually.
“He’s a wonderful centre but I know he can play fullback – it’s always going to take time,” he said.