Mitchell inspired by Fittler's mantra
Ten days ago Latrell Mitchell wondered, for a few terrifying moments at least, whether he would ever walk again as the state of NSW held its collective breath.
Then, more than once before 82,000 at ANZ Stadium on Sunday night, and with another three million or so watching from home, Mitchell soared.
He charged through Will Chambers, the best centre in the game for the past three years, for the 49th-minute try that had the Blues faithful daring to dream.
More than once too, the 21-year-old flew straight into the sun.
He burned himself, teammate Josh Addo-Carr, coaches and fans alike with an audacious pass in his own 20, gifting Queensland possession and Chambers a square-up try.
Bated breath was traded for frustrated expletives. Not least in Brad Fittler's coaches box.
"He went for it. He just keeps going for it," Fittler surmised after the Blues breakthrough 18-14 win.
"There was talk in the box about asking him to change his ways. And I was never ever going to question him to keep going for it."
Mitchell knows that pass from a 20-metre tap was never on. Neither was the low percentage flick pass that dribbled over the sideline soon after.
But he'll keep throwing them. Maybe with a little more thought at times. And he'll keep flying in, folding Cameron Munster like fresh linen, with the type of shot that shifts a contest.
Life's too short not to. Especially when across town a week ago, Mitchell is lying flat on his back, his mind drifting to dark places after being caught awkwardly in a tackle by Panthers half and NSW teammate Nathan Cleary.
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Fittler, knowing the rare potential Mitchell's rare talent can reach, can see the pay-off. He backs him to produce it, having carved his own storied career in similar fashion.
"I grew up watching a few games of Freddy's and he was obviously instinctive too," Mitchell said.
"He'd look up and play what he saw and take it with both hands and execute. That's for me to work on now… [sometimes] it's not the right thing to do, at times I should hold it.
"But if I'm not going to do it and back myself with my ability I'm going to cramp up and just be a robot.
"I'm not there to be someone else, I'm there to be myself, that's what I'm made for.
"I'm there to play my own game, do what I have to do and whatever happens, happens.
"If I don't do that it's not me. My instinct kicks in and I just play to my ability. Nine times out of 10 I'd ice that [moment] but that time I didn't."
For Fittler, those same numbers say it all.
Nine times out of 10, with a short side raid on from close range, Mitchell's 193 cm and 104 kilos of pace, power, balance and footwork is coming up trumps.
Leaving opponents, not least Chambers, in his wake. In a way few others can.
"That's going to happen sometimes, he would've learned a lot out of [the game] I'm sure," Fittler said.
"When to go for it and when not to go for it. But he scored, he and the Foxx [Addo-Carr] again. Two tries that I don't know how many other blokes are going to score those tries. They were just speed and power."
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