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The Roar


NRL News: Integrity Unit investigate alleged Walker and Mitchell racial abuse, Crichton left in lurch

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13th May, 2024
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The NRL is investigating an allegation that Indigenous stars Latrell Mitchell and Cody Walker were racially abused during South Sydney’s loss to St George Illawarra.

South Sydney confirmed on Monday they had been made aware of a claim that the Rabbitohs pair were racially vilified by a member of the Kogarah crowd during last Saturday’s match.

“The Rabbitohs were informed of the incident by a member of the public as well as the NRL,” Souths said in a statement. 

“The NRL has confirmed the NRL Integrity Unit is investigating the matter.

“The Rabbitohs stand in condemnation of any form of racism in our sport, and society in general, and will support the NRL’s investigation in any way possible.”

It is far from the first time Mitchell has been racially targeted.

A teenager received a formal warning from NSW Police and a ban from the NRL last year for abusing Mitchell as he walked off the field at Penrith.

Mitchell has frequently called out racism on social media throughout his career, and has recently been subjected to boos from fans at matches.


The alleged abuse of Walker also came in his 200th NRL game.

Crichton left in lurch by Fifita signing

Angus Crichton has declared he doesn’t want to spend 2025 stuck behind David Fifita, saying it is up to the Sydney Roosters to explain to him how he has a future at the club. 

Off contract at season’s end, Crichton labelled the Roosters’ decision to sign Fifita as “interesting” and admitted it left him wondering about the club’s thinking.

The 28-year-old also admitted he was unsure if both he and Fifita could fit into the same team, given both are attacking threats as left-side second-rowers.

Crichton has previously discussed the possibility of moving to Europe for rugby union at year’s end, while Penrith also made inquiries about him earlier this month.

Regardless, he made clear he is not willing to play second fiddle at the Roosters and wants to remain on the left edge.


“I don’t want to be sitting behind anyone,” he said.

“If there’s an opportunity that makes sense (elsewhere), then I’ll definitely look at it. 

“I’m not going to rush it, especially with the Fifita stuff that’s come out now. 

“That’s a good enough reason for me to take my time, and make smart decisions.” 

Sent to reserve grade to start the year, Crichton has shot into NSW State of Origin contention in the past month as the form second-rower of the competition.

Roosters coach Trent Robinson admitted on Saturday Fifita’s deal meant it could be harder to retain Crichton, but insisted the door was not shut on him yet.

Fifita has previously played on the right at the Titans, and was meant to start last year there before a season-ending injury to Beau Fermor.


But Crichton said he was yet to hear from the club what Fifita’s arrival meant for him.

“I probably won’t go looking for him (Robinson), but if he wants to talk to me he knows where to find me,” Crichton said.

“It does make you question where their head’s at.

“No one’s talked to me, which is funny.

“Last I heard they were keen (to re-sign me), but then obviously that (Fifita news) comes out. It’s an interesting one and something I’ll have to monitor.

“All I can do is play good footy and keep putting my hand up to be there on the left.

“No one’s talked to me, and I’m not sure if they will.”


The Roosters already have fellow backrowers Sitili Tupouniua, Victor Radley and Nat Butcher signed until 2027.

Penrith are an option Crichton would be interested in, if they follow up the previous inquiry.

The 2019 premiership winner would likely want to head there as a second-rower, believing playing exclusively on an edge is part of the reason behind his return to form this year.

“It was tough last year coming in, I was underdone (after personal issues), and I was sort of playing a bit in the middle which isn’t my spot,” Crichton said. 

“Even at the start of this year Robbo wanted to give those other boys first crack at the edges, which was his decision. 

“In the trial he played me at prop, I’m not a prop. 

“I’m an out-and-out backrower so forcing his hand and making him put me there and playing me 80 (minutes), I’ve been able to get that consistency.”


Wahs confident on Johnson prognosis

The Warriors are confident Shaun Johnson has not ruptured a pectoral muscle after he failed to finish the club’s 38-18 loss to the Sydney Roosters.

Johnson appeared to battle through significant pain in the Warriors’ fourth straight defeat, before leaving the field with around 14 minutes to go.

The halfback’s injury comes just days after Roger Tuivasa-Sheck tore his hamstring at Warriors training, leaving him out for up to six weeks.

Any serious pectoral injury would leave large question marks over Johnson’s future.

The 34-year-old is off contract at the end of this year, and a ruptured pectoral would have the potential of ending his season early.


But after leaving Johnson on the field for the majority of the game, coach Andrew Webster is not that concerned.

“If there was going to be an issue there or going to end with a ruptured pec, I wouldn’t have had him stay on the field,” Webster said.

“I don’t know if he’s good for next week. He battled on at halftime. It was a tough conversation.

“He said ‘I want to go and fight here’, and I’m really proud of him, the way he wanted to do that. 

“But yeah, as a result of where he’s at next week or anything like that, or how long if he’s out at all, I don’t know yet.

“He’s very sore at the moment. It started hurting him when he was passing the footy and things like that.” 

The Warriors are hopeful of having five-eighth Chanel Harris-Tevita available next week to replace Johnson against Penrith, if needed.

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 22: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck of the Warriors is brought down during the round three NRL match between New Zealand Warriors and Canberra Raiders at Apollo Projects Stadium, on March 22, 2024, in Christchurch, New Zealand.

(Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

But what is clear is the club must turn things around fast.

While they were the fairytale story of the NRL last year, 2024 has quickly turned into a horror show with three victories from their opening 10 games.

A loss next week to the three-time defending premiers Penrith would leave their season firmly in the balance, with serious doubts over whether they can recover.

The Warriors did well to keep the scoreboard somewhat respectable on Sunday at Allianz Stadium, but were never in the contest after conceding four tries in 10 minutes early.

“We’re lacking confidence,” Webster said. “I’m not going to gloss over it. It starts with me. I’ve go to find a way to get these boys confident and believe in how good they can be. 

“Because when something went bad there early, it took a while for us to really put our feet in the ground and stop it


“It was a juggernaut coming at us and we (should be) good enough to stop it, add resistance and turn them away.”

Cowboys spiralling down ladder

North Queensland coach Todd Payten concedes he faces one of the toughest challenges of his coaching career after the Cowboys lost their fifth consecutive match.

The 20-18 away loss to Gold Coast on Sunday has the Townsville-based side mired in 12th after they were second following their 35-22 home win over the same opponents in round five.

The losing streak is their worst since 2021, when in Payten’s first season at the helm they suffered 10 consecutive defeats.


“It is up there as a challenge. I wouldn’t say it is the greatest … but it is not just going to click,” Payten said.

“We need to fight and scrap our way to victory and that is with an 80-minute effort. It is about getting the first one out of the road and building on that.” 

The Cowboys have a chance to get back in the winners circle at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday when they face last-placed South Sydney.

They are conceding far too many tries through the middle of the field and to allow the barge-over effort by David Fifita near the line in the first half was unacceptable for an NRL outfit.

TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 04: The Cowboys look on from the in-goal after a Dolphins try during the round nine NRL match between North Queensland Cowboys and Dolphins at Qld Country Bank Stadium, on May 04, 2024, in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

The Cowboys look on from the in-goal after a Dolphins try. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Payten said his side showed fighting spirit to almost snatch a victory but had got themselves “in a hole” when they trailed 20-0 at halftime.

“We are sitting here after five losses on the trot and we haven’t got anyone else to blame,” Payten said.


“I know the only way out of it is to get our heads down, work really hard and stay tight as a group. We saw in the second half that the care, fight and resilience is there.

“That is the message I gave the team. It is about sticking together and prioritising our profession.”

There is nothing wrong with the Cowboys roster with Queensland representatives Val Holmes, Jeremiah Nanai, Reuben Cotter and Tom Dearden all on the park against the Titans. 

Hooker Reece Robson has represented NSW and fullback Scott Drinkwater was a Blues 18th man last year.

“Games aren’t won on paper. They are won on determination, attitude and resilience. We are just falling short in different areas,” Payten said.

The Cowboys won four of their first five games but were loose defensively in several of those victories.


“I think they were soft wins to be fair and wallpapered some of our defensive stuff,” he said.

“When we played the better teams we couldn’t get it done. Defensively, our mindset around stopping tries has got to improve.”

with AAP