Stat Attack: Latrell an underused 'Ferrari', says Johns
Boyd Cordner admits common sense should see Latrell Mitchell given more ball after Eighth Immortal and Roosters halves coach Andrew Johns dubbed him the 'Ferrari in the garage they never drive'.
An NRL.com Stats analysis backs Johns' frank assessment of the Tricolours' attacking structures, with Mitchell ranking as arguably the game's most destructive centre despite only middling involvement numbers this season.
Johns couldn't hide his frustrations during the Roosters 24-8 loss to the Dragons on Anzac Day, pleading for Mitchell to see more action in commentary.
"I keep harping on the left side — Latrell Mitchell," Johns said.
"They've got a Ferrari in the garage and they never drive it, you never see him with the ball."
Mitchell's five tries and line breaks across 2018 have him ranked equal-first among the NRL's centres and knocking on the door of a NSW Origin debut.
His 39 tackle busts also trump fellow Blues contender James Roberts (35), though his eight runs a game for 89 metres are well down the list of the NRL's three-quarters.
Likewise his 70 touches this season (8.75 a game) rank him well behind the likes of elite centres Dane Gagai (15.1 touches a game), Greg Inglis (14.6) and Will Chambers (12.5).
On average Mitchell is running slightly less than in his previous two seasons of first grade but having greater impact offensively, giving weight to the 'less is more' argument around the 20-year-old's involvement.
The Roosters hierarchy don't have any issue with Johns' blunt comments despite being on their payroll, while Cordner conceded more could be made of Mitchell's prodigious talents.
"To have a guy like Latrell out there and to see how much of a headache he can be for some defensive teams, it would just be common sense to get him the ball," Cordner said.
"But sometimes it goes both ways with our structure and the way the game's going.
"There's been games this year where he has got a lot of ball and some games where he hasn't seen as much as he would like.
"But our attack is still a work in progress and something that we'll have to keep working on and something we'll have to get right soon.
"...To have look at our team and especially on that left edge, we've got that strike there so we are confident that we can turn around quickly. We've shown this year in games that we are capable of doing that."
Despite an inconsistent 4-4 start to the season by the Roosters, Mitchell has been in sublime try-scoring touch with five tries in his past seven games and nine in his last 10 matches at Allianz Stadium.
Manly will make the trip into the city this Sunday afternoon with former Rooster Jackson Hastings set to be named in their 21-man squad, two weeks after he was all but exiled from first grade over behavioural issues.
While Hastings was known to clash with senior players during his short stint in the red, white and blue, Cordner said he had no issues with the 22-year-old.
"From what I know of Jackson, him being here at the Roosters, he was fine and the team got along with him really well," Cordner said.
"I know Jackson and I think he's a good bloke. He's definitely got some good qualities as a footballer and as a person too. That's all I can say on it, I don't know what's going on at Manly."