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Melbourne Storm’s Christian Welch admits he ‘FEELS SORRY’ for Rabbitohs NRL star Latrell Mitchell

Injured Melbourne Storm skipper Christian Welch has leapt to the defence of controversial Rabbitohs star Latrell Mitchell, lauding him as a ‘great role model’ and slamming the media for always ‘finding a problem with him.’

Welch, who is also the director of the Players Association, appeared on ABC’s Offsiders program on Sunday morning; and was full of praise for the fullback, who led his side to a stunning victory over the Storm on Saturday night.

Mitchell is often in the headlines both for his play on the field, be it scintillating or controversial, and what he does off it. 

The supremely-talented Rabbitoh is very outspoken, and frequently criticised, for his views on Indigenous issues and his ultra-physical style on the field that often pushes boundaries.

Latrell Mitchell celebrates after the Rabbitohs 12-point win over the Melbourne Storm on Saturday night in Sydney

Latrell Mitchell celebrates after the Rabbitohs 12-point win over the Melbourne Storm on Saturday night in Sydney

Melbourne Storm skipper and Rugby League Players Association director Christian Welch has leapt to the defence of Mitchell

Melbourne Storm skipper and Rugby League Players Association director Christian Welch has leapt to the defence of Mitchell

But Welch wasn’t having a bar of it. 

‘I feel sorry for him (Mitchell) at times. What a great role model, a proud Indigenous man, how outspoken and proud he is for his people,’ he said. 

‘I think young Indigenous kids throughout Australia, seeing him on the television and seeing the character he is, it’s great.

‘He could help an elderly citizen cross the road and someone in the media would find a problem with him. I think he cops a bit of grief,’ said Welch.

Mitchell often calls out racist trolls on social media, and is not afraid to call out the government, either. 

Latrell Mitchell (standing), pictured leading a war-cry at the Indigenous v Maori All Stars game in 2021, often finds himself in the headlines both on and off the field

Latrell Mitchell (standing), pictured leading a war-cry at the Indigenous v Maori All Stars game in 2021, often finds himself in the headlines both on and off the field

In April, prior to the federal election, he called out then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and suggested Australia should have an Indigenous leader.

‘He gotta go. Get a blak (sic) Prime Minister in, (he’d) do a better job at running a country than unk (Morrison) here,’ he wrote on Instagram. 

He recently told media critics of teammate Cody Walker to ‘shut up,’ and caused a stir when he ruled himself out the State of Origin decider – a decision that raised a few eyebrows.

The fact he was injured for much of the beginning of the NRL season made him easy fodder, but critics have been forced to eat their words after his strong return from his hamstring strain. 

Latrell Mitchell (with ball) breaks a tackle in the Rabbitohs win over Melbourne on Saturday night

Latrell Mitchell (with ball) breaks a tackle in the Rabbitohs win over Melbourne on Saturday night

The fullback proved more ball-player than metre-muncher in Saturday night’s win; setting up two tries, laying on two linebreak assists and breaking six tackles in an almost flawless display.

Australian Netball great Shani Norder appeared on the program alongside Welch, and she lauded players like Mitchell for their presence on the field.

The former Diamonds skipper and Collingwood AFLW star said these days many players ‘drop their heads instead of fighting’ during games and Mitchell was such a good on-field leader due to the way he drags others with him.  

‘I think everyone in this day and age is so sick of words … you want a player that will stand up,’ Norder said of Mitchell. 

‘If someone will put their hand up, like Latrell, they (teammates) go, ‘I’ve got this, this is how you do it,’ and you bring the belief in for everyone around you.’

Former netball and AFLW star Sharni Norder has praised the impact on the field of players like Latrell Mitchell

Former netball and AFLW star Sharni Norder has praised the impact on the field of players like Latrell Mitchell

Norder said even if Mitchell wasn’t the one who would get the stat for a big moment during the game, he was still a big part of it. 

‘If you are not the one to do it, you will help the person in your team that can. You can be a team sacrificer, and put yourself second, to help someone look first,’ she said. 

‘That’s what he does for that group. I think one player in any team, but especially in a team sport like NRL, where it is so tough and tactical, makes a huge difference.’

Many would argue his physical style sometimes descends into a state bordering thuggery – hence the frequent criticism. 

Latrell Mitchell hits Joseph Manu's jaw with his shoulder last season

Latrell Mitchell hits Joseph Manu’s jaw with his shoulder last season

He appeared unapologetic at first when shattering former teammate Joseph Manu’s cheekbone with a brutal high shot last season – something that led to a six-week suspension.

Critics came fiercely for Mitchell after the moment, even suggesting the Rabbitohs would have beat Penrith in the grand final had he not committed the ugly act. 

It was just one of a series of incidents that blurred the rugby league lines on the field – but many suggest he frequently faces far more scrutiny on the field from referees and the match review panel than other players.

Latrell Mitchell makes a break during the Rabbitoh's round 18 game against the Bulldogs

Latrell Mitchell makes a break during the Rabbitoh’s round 18 game against the Bulldogs

What many fail to take into account, though, is the incredible amount of work he does in, and for, the Indigenous community.

He often gives up merchandise or game equipment to fans, something which people tend to turn a blind eye to. 

I’d bet he’d help a little old lady cross the road, too. 


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