Footy club’s massive gamble to save NRL superstar Latrell Mitchell backfires as he’s banned for FOUR games after dangerous hit
- Latrell Mitchell Dally M hope dashed and NSW State of Origin selection in doubt
- South Sydney Rabbitohs player banned for four games after dangerous collision
- He tried to downgrade original one-game ban and now team will miss star player
Latrell Mitchell’s Dally M hopes are officially over and his NSW State of Origin selection are in doubt after copping a four-game ban at the NRL judiciary.
Mitchell on Tuesday night shook his head at South Sydney officials when told he’d failed in his bid to have a dangerous contact charge downgraded to a one-game ban.
‘He’s obviously disappointed,’ Rabbitohs head of football Mark Ellison said afterwards.
‘He’s the Dally M leader at the moment and the crowds won’t see him for four matches.
‘It’s sad for the game and for him.’
Latrell Mitchell’s Dally M hopes are over and his NSW State of Origin selection are in doubt
It came after the star fullback’s legal team tried to argue Mitchell was merely trying to avoid contact when his forearm collided with David Nofoaluma on Saturday night.
In a 50-minute hearing, Mitchell’s lawyer Nick Ghabar also claimed the contact was only ‘glancing’ and had been initiated by both players.
‘Mitchell showed a level of care,’ Ghabar told the panel.
‘He’s trying to avoid contact with Nofoaluma. Whereas if he continues on his previous path he would’ve made shoulder contact.
‘His head is looking towards the ball (that was kicked).
‘Short of Mitchell having eyes in the back of his head … he could not have foreseen (contact) was going to occur.’
The South Sydney Rabbitohs player copped a four-game ban at the NRL judiciary on Tuesday
After failing to get Penrith centre Paul Momirovski off a ban earlier in the night using a grade-one Jake Friend tackle from last year, Ghabar compared the incident with Mitchell’s.
‘That contact was more careless, more forceful and certainly a lot later than Mitchell’s,’ he said.
‘If that is a grade one, how can this be anything other than a grade one?’
Ghabar also questioned if the referee’s report of Nofoaluma’s bleeding mouth had definitely come from the hit.
Mitchell (pictured on Saturday night) will miss four games and faces up to $4200 in fines
But regardless of the claims, the three-man panel of Dallas Johnson, Bob Lindner and Ben Creagh disagreed inside just eight minutes.
Instead they supported NRL counsel Peter McGrath that Mitchell had thrown his left arm at the Wests Tigers winger.
‘The jumping and twisting shows a very, very high lack of care to the attacking player,’ McGrath said.
Mitchell may not be able to play the State of Origin for New South Wales following the ban
Mitchell’s ban has huge ramifications.
The Rabbitohs fullback leads the Dally M race after six rounds, but is now ineligible after copping a ban of more than two matches.
He will also now return just two weeks before Origin teams are named, with only games against Penrith and Parramatta available to impress Blues coach Brad Fittler.
At Souths, they will have to do without their star No.1 in games against Gold Coast, Melbourne, Canberra and Cronulla.
Alex Johnston will shift to fullback while Jaxson Paulo will be called onto their wing to fill his absence.
Mitchell (pictured with partner Brielle) unsuccessfully tried to argue he tried to avoid contact