Horror high tackle sees Rabbitohs superstar Latrell Mitchell face a suspension that could put him on the bench for the rest of the year
- NRL superstar Latrell Mitchell unlikely to play again this season for Rabbitohs
- Could be banned for nine games after horror hit on Roosters centre Joey Manu
- Mitchell charged with grade-two reckless high tackle charge for his ugly shot
- Fullback missed South Sydney’s finals campaign in 2020 with hamstring injury
Latrell Mitchell needs a miracle at the NRL judiciary to save his season with the South Sydney superstar facing up to nine games out for the hit that floored Joey Manu.
The NRL’s match review committee came down hard on Mitchell on Saturday, slapping him with a grade-two reckless high tackle charge for his ugly shot on Friday in the round 24 grudge match.
It was one of three charges levelled against Rabbitohs players, with Liam Knight also facing between two and three games out for a hip drop that injured Siosuia Taukeiaho.
Dane Gagai is also facing a $1600 fine for twice swearing at referee Ashley Klein after he was sin-binned late in the match following a melee.
NRL superstar Latrell Mitchell is set for an extended stint on the sideline after a mis-timed hit on Friday against the Sydney Roosters
Latrell Mitchell (pictured with wife Brielle) could miss up to nine games following his ugly shot on Roosters player Joey Manu
But none of those charges will hurt as much as Mitchell’s, after his old teammate Manu was sent to hospital with a suspected fractured cheekbone.
The grade-two reckless high tackle charge is effectively the fifth highest possible grade out of nine that can be handed down for high shots.
Mitchell can accept the charge and cop a six-game ban, ending his season and meaning he will have a delayed start to 2022.
Downgrading the charge to a grade-one reckless high tackle would also not be enough to allow him back on the field this year, resulting in a five-game ban.
It means he would have to get the charge downgraded two levels to a grade-three careless high tackle, which would get him a four-week ban.
Even then, he would only return in the grand final if Souths lost in the first week of the finals to Penrith but then went on to reach the decider.
Adding further issues for Mitchell is if he does head to the judiciary to downgrade or fight it altogether and is unsuccessful, the ban will extend to nine games and well into 2022.
Mitchell’s plight is not helped by the fact he has four priors, three of which came in the one game this year against Wests Tigers as well as a striking charge against the same opponent in 2020.
It comes after the Rabbitohs led calls for judiciary reform earlier this year, arguing loading on charges should be capped at 25 per cent.
Mitchell’s loading in this instance is 80 per cent.
Regardless, it represents a huge blow to the Rabbitohs’ title hopes in what was effectively a meaningless game for the club.
Tempers soon reached boiling point following Latrell Mitchell’s hit on Joey Manu (pictured next to referee Ashley Klein)
Sydney Roosters centre Joey Manu (pictured) won’t play again in 2021 after fracturing his cheekbone
The 24-year-old went to another level at fullback this season, offering hope Souths could challenge title fancies Melbourne and Penrith after he missed last year’s finals series with a hamstring injury.
‘We’ll have to wait and see,’ coach Wayne Bennett said when asked if they could win the title without Mitchell.
‘He’s a huge player for us, but we didn’t have him last year in the playoffs and I think we’re a better team than we were last year and pretty good at getting other players to play well for us in key positions.
‘We’ve won a lot of games this year with a lot of players missing.’
Meanwhile the charge will also raise questions as to why Mitchell was not sent off, with Roosters coach Trent Robinson already furious the fullback was only sin-binned.