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The seven moments that cost Latrell Mitchell his NSW jersey

There are seven moments the NSW coaching staff couldn't erase from their memories.

It's one thing to question the execution by a player – that can be fixed.

But when coaches start questioning a player's decision-making and whether they're up for a game as important as Origin, confidence in that person's ability to get the job done begins to erode quickly.

In Latrell Mitchell's case, that's what happened in the first 40 minutes at Suncorp Stadium in Origin I.

There have been plenty of theories behind Mitchell's axing for game two – some of which are completely off the mark and disrespectful to what Fittler has been trying to build.

To put it simply, the Blues just felt they didn't have enough time to figure out why Mitchell wasn't up for game one and to change his mindset by kick-off in Perth on Sunday night.

For the Blues, it was a gamble they couldn't afford to take with the series on the line. As they've said, they need to know, not hope, for what they'd get from their players.

NRL.com went back through the footage and highlighted a number of errors in Mitchell's game that were magnified in the Blues' post-match review.

Latrell Mitchell after Origin I.
Latrell Mitchell after Origin I. ©Robb Cox/NRL Photos

While the left edge struggled as a unit defensively, the Blues were willing to wear that.

But the biggest discussion point at the selection table in regards to Mitchell was his decision-making.

There were some early warning signs in game three last year, which NSW lost, that only heightened their concerns.

NSW don't know what he's going through. But they understand enough to know his head wasn't quite where it needed to be when it mattered most.

The moments that cost Mitchell: 1

When Josh Addo-Carr retrieves the ball 15 metres out from his own line from a Cameron Munster kick, Mitchell heads to the wing and finds himself in a good position to support his winger.

The moments that cost Mitchell: 1

With his speed, Addo-Carr does enough to get on the outside of Dane Gagai and draw in Will Chambers. Mitchell doesn't support Addo-Carr, despite a 10-metre corridor with no Queenslander in front of him.

The moments that cost Mitchell: 2

Daly Cherry-Evans puts up a bomb that is taken 15 metres out by James Tedesco.

The moments that cost Mitchell: 2

The NSW fullback beats the first two defenders and makes a break, but Mitchell doesn't put himself in a position to support his Roosters teammate, who is brought down just short of the halfway line.

The moments that cost Mitchell: 3, 4 & 5

In this set of six, the alarm bells begin ringing for the Blues in relation to Mitchell. David Klemmer produces an offload on halfway that puts Damien Cook into open space. Cook heads down Mitchell's left edge but Mitchell is the furthest from the ball in support as the hooker races away. The next tackle the Blues head down the blindside and have an opportunity to exploit a three-on-two advantage, however Mitchell is slow to react and takes himself out of the play by heading in-field.

The moments that cost Mitchell: 3, 4 and 5

On the next tackle Mitchell heads to dummy half to feed Cody Walker the ball. Walker heads back towards the ruck and grubbers into the in-goal. Mitchell is once again slow to react and Gagai makes it out of his in-goal area to take the pressure off his team.

The moments that cost Mitchell: 6

As Queensland come right through Ben Hunt, Mitchell and Walker are walking off the line. It puts Boyd Cordner in a vulnerable position defensively and then Mitchell is caught in no-man's land as Cherry-Evans finds Will Chambers on the outside.

The moments that cost Mitchell: 6

Addo-Carr had dropped back slightly for the last tackle, but unfortunately Mitchell is the slowest of the Blues' left-edge defence to chase, the Roosters centre appearing to show a lack of urgency.

The moments that cost Mitchell: 7

Munster's footwork exposes the NSW left edge once again. While Mitchell is out-numbered, his decision to go for the intercept instead of taking the man with the ball allows the Queensland five-eighth to burst down the field. The pace of Addo-Carr saves what seemed a certain Queensland try.

The moments that cost Mitchell: 7

Freddy's throwaway line falls flat

Brad Fittler has been praised during the past 18 months for his relaxed approach, often making light of serious situations.

Unfortunately for Fittler there was a moment in his press conference after announcing his team for game two that didn't come across the way he'd hoped.

There are many at South Sydney who feel the Blues coach disrespected Cody Walker when he jokingly explained the reasons behind James Maloney's reinstatement.

"Well, I rang Braith Anasta and he said he couldn't play, so Jimmy was the last five-eighth that was standing," Fittler said.

It hasn't gone down well in Redfern, despite no disrespect intended by the coach.

Klem delays going under the knife

Newcastle prop David Klemmer, who has declared himself fit for selection for the Blues in game three, is expected to undergo off-season surgery on the broken wrist he suffered in the opening exchanges of game one.

Klemmer opted against having the surgery immediately as it would have placed his ambitions of playing finals football for the Knights in jeopardy.

Blues prop David Klemmer.
Blues prop David Klemmer. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

Blues embrace demoted star 

The Blues enjoyed their traditional bonding session at The Star casino in Sydney on Sunday night before flying to Perth the following morning.

Much to their surprise, Latrell Mitchell – unaware the Blues were there – walked in with his friends. It could have been quite an awkward moment but the Blues coaching staff embraced the centre who spent more than an hour with the team.

Not backing up proves costly

Brad Fittler has always spoken about the measure of an Origin player is how well he backs up for his club.

Call it a coincidence, perhaps, but the four players that were dropped for game two – Josh Morris, Latrell Mitchell, Cody Walker and Angus Crichton – are the only players who didn't take the field for their clubs after game one.

Wallace zips lip

Queensland prop Jarrod Wallace is so focused on Sunday's game following his recall to the Maroons side that he has placed himself on a media ban for the week.

Speaking of bans, Blues winger Josh Addo-Carr admitted he wasn't allowed to talk about the national anthem debate that has flared again after former Blues winger Timana Tahu's controversial column in which he implied there were Cody Walker and Latrell Mitchell were overlooked for Origin II in part due to their refusal to sing the anthem in the series opener.

 

The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations.

 

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