South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett is pondering an NRL finals campaign without his star full-back after Latrell Mitchell’s high shot likely ended Joey Manu’s season and marred their 54-12 win over the Sydney Roosters.
- South Sydney’s premiership hopes are facing a big blow with Latrell Mitchell set for a big ban for a high tackle
- Mitchell’s loading for prior offences this year means that his hit on Roosters’ Joey Manu could end his season
- The Rabbitohs’ Liam Knight was also reported for a hip drop tackle on Siosiua Taukeiaho
Roosters centre Manu was sent to hospital with a suspected fractured cheekbone after Mitchell’s shoulder sent him crashing to the Lang Park turf on Friday.
Mitchell was sin-binned and, if stung with a grade two dangerous contact charge, could miss the rest of the season given the loading he’s accrued from a string of previous incidents.
The 24-year-old had gone to another level at full-back this season, offering hope that Souths could challenge title fancies Melbourne and Penrith after he missed last year’s finals series with a hamstring injury.
Former NSW coach and administrator Phil Gould said Mitchell’s tackle had effectively knocked both teams out of the competition, while Paul Gallen was adamant Souths, currently third, couldn’t win without Mitchell in the number one.
“We’ll have to wait and see,” Bennett said when asked if they could win the title without Mitchell.
“He’s a huge player for us, but we didn’t have him last year in the playoffs and I think we’re a better team than we were last year and pretty good at getting other players to play well for us in key positions.
“We’ve won a lot of games this year with a lot of players missing.
“At the moment, we’re looking at a couple of key players missing through suspension, but I’m confident there’s enough good players to make it happen.
“It just makes it a bit harder.”
Liam Knight was also reported for a hip drop tackle on Siosiua Taukeiaho, leaving Bennett to admit any plans to rest players in next week’s final round could be taken out of his hands by the judiciary.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson launched a post-match tirade at the officials for their handling of both incidents.
He compared the bunker to a circus “so bad it’s actually funny” and declared former Rooster Mitchell needed to “get that (foul play) out of his game”.
“Trel plays on the edge and that’s what makes him a great player to watch,” he said.
“I’m angry at him for that incident … I absolutely love him but he’s just cost one of his good mates (Manu) his season … it’s not on and really hurts.”
Bennett fired back when told of Robinson’s remarks.
“No-one likes to see what happened out there tonight, but it’s out of my control now and we’ll see what happens.”