Meet the Sydney tradie who was given the job of helping NSW star Latrell Mitchell harden up for his State of Origin return

  • Sydney tradie Semisi Kioa gave up a day’s pay to help NSW Blues
  • Kioa plays for third-tier St Marys in the Ron Massey Cup 
  • St Marys and NSW Blues had an opposed session on Thursday 

As Latrell Mitchell prepares for his return to the Origin arena, an unassuming Sydney concreter was given the daunting task of helping the star NSW Blues centre fine-tune his game.

Semisi Kioa, who won an under-20s title with the Manly Sea Eagles in 2017 alongside Blues backrower Haumole Olakau’atu, sacrificed close to $1000 to train in an opposed session at the Blue Mountains Grammar School on Thursday.

Right centre Kioa plays for St Marys in the third-tier Ron Massey Cup  – and jumped at the opportunity to test himself against Michael Maguire’s men.

‘I had to take the day off to face the Blues … it’s cost me a few bucks, but it was worth it,’ Kioa told the Sydney Morning Herald.

‘I marked up on Latrell and it was tough, he’s a tough player, the way he plays with mongrel.

As Latrell Mitchell prepares for his return to the Origin arena, Sydney concreter Semisi Kioa (right) was given the task of helping the star NSW Blues centre fine-tune his game

‘He was giving me some tips, showing me how he plays. To mark up on him was a good experience. He’s got the right-hand fend and I was trying to not get pushed off by that.’

Lock Cameron Murray was impressed by Kioa, who Mitchell also labelled a ‘strong guy’ when chatting post the training session.

‘It was exactly the kind of intensity that we needed, so we are very grateful the St Marys boys turned up, and they were sharp,’ the Rabbitohs skipper said.

‘We got a lot out of it, and I’m sure they did as well.’

Stephen Crichton’s older brother Christian also plays for St Marys – but couldn’t secure a day off work at Kennards Hire to test out his sibling with his boots on.

It comes as NRL great Cooper Cronk believes Mitchell’s work ethic could be the difference when it comes to NSW’s Origin hopes in game two.

‘It really is up to Latrell. When he wants to be involved, he can be the best player on the field. When he doesn’t want to be involved, he’s really hard to drag in,’ he said on the Matty Johns podcast.

‘Like you’ll say, ‘put this play on’ and he’ll say ‘no’, but then when he wants the ball, he’ll say ‘just give me the ball’. It really depends on the mood he’s in.

Semisi Kioa sacrificed close to $1000 to train in an opposed session at the Blue Mountains Grammar School on Thursday (pictured, when previously playing for Mounties in the NSW Cup)

Semisi Kioa sacrificed close to $1000 to train in an opposed session at the Blue Mountains Grammar School on Thursday (pictured, when previously playing for Mounties in the NSW Cup)

NSW last won the interstate trophy in 2021 - where Mitchell featured in all three games

NSW last won the interstate trophy in 2021 – where Mitchell featured in all three games

‘If he goes after the contest like he has [for the Rabbitohs] the last couple of weeks, he is very good, so I don’t think motivation will be the issue for Latrell.

‘I think the fact will be when he gets fatigued and when there’s tired moments, will he still be able to hold his gloves up?

Game two of the Origin series is at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on June 26.

NSW last won the interstate trophy in 2021 – where Mitchell featured in all three games. 

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