'Words cut deep' but racist trolls won't ruin Latrell's finals focus

He is off Instagram but Latrell Mitchell is right on top of anyone trying to drive a wedge between Australia's indigenous and non-indigenous population or distracting him from the Roosters' NRL title campaign.

The game's leading scorer is not intimidated by social media trolls and is not going to let anyone, or anything, divert his focus from beating the Storm in Saturday night's preliminary final at the SCG.

"I've had a few rough patches there where a few words cut deep. At the end of the day they are just words and they won't say it to my face," Latrell said.

"I'll focus on myself this week and not worry what people say to try and get me off my game – because I know they're going to do it. I just want to play footy."

He hasn't always been free to do that. In August the 22-year-old centre shared a Facebook racist rant against him on his Instagram.

The NRL Integrity Unit began an investigation and a host of players from all clubs, alongside other community leaders, praised Mitchell for calling it out.

Although Mitchell has made a vow to stay off Instagram this week, he'll be back on it after the finals are over. He won't give up the crusade to end racism, especially against Australia's first inhabitants – a culture that has existed for more than 40,000 years before the arrival of British settlers 231 years ago.

"I just want to be a great role model for my people and the kids. They have grown up with it," he said.

"I want them to set a standard for themselves where they can grow up and get this out of their lives.

"It has been around for so long, it needs to come to an end. Let's just move on.

"You come here on a boat to a land - you call it terra nullius - or land that belongs to nobody. Where were Aboriginal people when they were saying this? Obviously killing us, raping us, genocide, trying to wipe us out. It is sickening and it is still going on."

Mitchell knows speaking out like this will once again make him a target. But he's had that most of his life.

"My dad would always pull me off the footy field if someone was being racist. There's no point in having it in the game, or anywhere in society," he said.

Three years ago he was at reserve grade game at Leichhardt Oval with Roosters coach Trent Robinson watching their then feeder club, the Wyong Roos, play.

"… and this fella called me a black c--- in front of everyone. I just laugh."

But he can see some light at the end of the tunnel. He will keep highlighting the intolerance and disrespect for as long as he has to do so.

"I'll do that for the rest of my career, for the rest of my life, to call it out," he said.

"For this week I want to protect my energy and just worry about myself.

“I got rid of Instagram for the week so I can see where I can take my footy."

So far that's taken him to 261 points – 19 tries, 92 goals, one field goal – more than 40 points ahead of Jarrod Croker and Cameron Smith and they've played two more games than Mitchell.

He loves playing on the SCG because it reminds him of the wide, open space "of Taree rec ground" in his home town.

He also loves playing Melbourne because of the standard they have set the past decade or more.

Still, he is indebted to the Sydney Roosters and is looking at a second premiership to help repay them.

"I am pretty proud of this team, being part of this family," Mitchell said.

"They have given me a life. I just know if we go into this week and win it, no one can stop us. I don't see how we can get beat."

Either the Raiders or Rabbitohs may have a second opinion on that.

Experience the 2019 Finals Series and 2019 Women’s Premiership live. Make sure you get your tickets now