South Sydney have called on Roosters fans to show some respect for the man who helped the club land two NRL titles after Latrell Mitchell was booed for much of Friday night’s clash between the arch-rivals.
Mitchell was booed every time he touched the ball at the new Allianz Stadium, and the jeering reached a deafening crescendo when the fullback was sin-binned midway through the second half. Tricolours fans clearly haven’t forgiven the former Rooster for the high tackle that broke star centre Joey Manu’s cheekbone last season.
“How some Roosters fans decide to treat a two-time premiership winner is up to them,” Souths chief executive Blake Solly told The Sun-Herald.
“But Souths fans and members absolutely love Latrell and cannot wait to get out there next Sunday. We want to turn the stadium into a sea of red and green and drown out the minority.”
Souths are confident there will not be a repeat of the booing of the superstar when the foundation clubs clash in week one of the finals – simply because Roosters supporters are likely to be outnumbered by the Redfern faithful.
It is not the first time opposition fans have targeted Mitchell for prolonged periods, with Melbourne doing their best to make him feel unwelcome in round two at AAMI Park.
While Mitchell enjoyed being the villain – and even posed with a few Roosters fans for photos after full-time – Souths officials thought there would have been a bit more respect shown, especially to a player who won the Bondi club two titles.
Latrell Mitchell is sent to the sin bin on Friday night.Credit:Getty
Tickets go on sale to Roosters and South Sydney members first thing Monday before seats can be bought by the public 24 hours later. Souths have more than 31,000 members, while the Roosters have about 18,000.
Penrith (19,085 members) also risk being outnumbered by fans of western Sydney rivals Parramatta (32,376 members), who can snap up tickets at the same time as their Panthers’ counterparts for Friday’s qualifying final at BlueBet Stadium.
The Roosters did an excellent job early with Mitchell by pinning him deep inside his own half and having three and four defenders rush up on him with every carry.
Coach Jason Demetriou, who watched the action from home while in COVID isolation – but quickly picked up on the booing through his laptop – said there was an easy way to avoid a second Mitchell ambush.
“It’s all pantomime – it’s what makes sport great,” he said. “We have to work harder in other areas to minimise their ability to [limit Mitchell].
“That’s the challenge and that’s finals footy. There will be times when teams get the ascendancy, and you need to bite down on your mouthguard and get through it.
The Roosters faithful were in fine voiceCredit:Getty
“You can’t expect to play the top teams and not be put under any pressure. Their play-the-ball speeds were quick at the start of the game, and they were kicking from the front foot. We need to ride that out.
“They’re a very good side, they’re playing great footy and are confident, so we know what kind of challenge is coming.”
Souths forward Jai Arrow likened the booing and Allianz atmosphere to an Origin game.
“The booing of Latrell was all in good fun, he’s an ex-Rooster, and every time he got the ball they let him know,” Arrow said.
“I’m sure he enjoys that part of the game. We play the game for the fans. It had a bit of an Origin vibe. We just weren’t good enough.
“We need to win the physical battle next week. I thought they bashed us in the first half, they won the middle third and then eventually the game. It’s a credit to them because they were up for the occasion.
“The positive we can take out of it is the way we fought in the second half.
“We will be up for it next week. It’s do or die.”
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