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Latrell cops lengthy ban for high elbow hit on Johnson as Souths coach laments 'stupid' acts

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7th April, 2024
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Latrell Mitchell is set to miss at least three matches, potentially four, after the NRL match review committee came down hard on the Rabbitohs fullback for a high hit with his elbow on Shaun Johnson.

Mitchell quickly apologised after catching Johnson in the head with a fend-off near the in-goal area, the incident one of two that earned the controversial star a report in the first half of South Sydney’s loss to the Warriors – the second an ugly lifting tackle on Tohu Harris.

The elbow on Johnson was deemed a grade-two dangerous contact charge, with Mitchell’s history of suspensions upping the charge to a four-match ban, which can be reduced to three with an early plea.

The 26-year old escaped being sent to the sin bin for either incident, with Fox League’s Greg Alexander claiming he was ‘lucky’ to avoid being banished.

“It’s a little bit more than just a forearm, it’s almost like a swinging elbow to the head of Shaun Johnson.”

Speaking after the Rabbitohs’ 34-4 loss which has seen them again slump to the bottom of the NRL ladder, coach Jason Demetriou hit out at the twin incidents.

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“They’re both stupid things. You’ve got to be better, simple as that,” Demetriou said.

But the South Sydney coach refused to condemn the fullback, whose track record is starting to count against him.

“I’ll have those conversations (with him) during the week,” Demetriou said. “It’s not something for me to talk about right now.

“As a group, we’ll be honest as we are every week and have a look at things we need to be better at.”

The verdict will leave Mitchell on the sidelines ahead of a testing run for the Bunnies, who face Cronulla, Melbourne and Penrith over the next month.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 25: Latrell Mitchell of the Rabbitohs celebrates with Rabbitohs head coach Jason Demetriou after victroy during the round four NRL match between South Sydney Rabbitohs and Manly Sea Eagles at Accor Stadium on March 25, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Latrell Mitchell with Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Souths are already without veteran winger Alex Johnston (hamstring) for another month, while centre Campbell Graham (sternum) is sidelined for the majority of the year.

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Axed halfback Lachlan Ilias broke his leg in NSW Cup yesterday, while his replacement Dean Hawkins is yet to make his mark in first grade. 

Mitchell’s pending ban likely means the club will call upon 20-year-old Jye Gray to debut in his spot against Cronulla on Saturday night.

His issues have come at the same time pressure has intensified on the Rabbitohs and Demetriou.

First on the ladder last May, Souths suffered the biggest capitulation in NRL history as they lost nine of their last 13 matches to miss the 2023 finals.

The freefall came as assistant coach and club legend Sam Burgess walked out on the team, concerned about what he believed was preferential treatment of Mitchell and Cody Walker.

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The Rabbitohs’ woes continued into this season, beaten soundly by Manly, Brisbane, the Sydney Roosters and now the Warriors.

Their only victory came against Canterbury on Good Friday, with the club’s 1-4 start their worst since 2008.

Mitchell’s ill discipline proved to be Souths’ undoing after a positive start where Izaac Thompson slid through the Warriors’ defence and touched down after five minutes.

It was the best South Sydney would play all afternoon with Rocco Berry breezing through some limp Rabbitohs defence to put Andrew Webster’s side ahead after Shaun Johnson converted.

In the 13 minutes between Mitchell’s two indiscretions, Souths made four errors and were offside three separate times.

Dolphins hooker Kurt Donoghoe is facing a ban of 2-3 matches for a high tackle on Samuela Fainu during their win over the Tigers, while Wests star Aidan Sezer has escaped with a fine of $1800-$2500 for dangerous contact on Jesse Bromwich.

(with AAP)

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