Cooper Cronk calls out worrying truth about Latrell Mitchell that could derail NSW in Origin 2

Cronk played with Mitchell at the Sydney Roosters in 2018 and 2019.

Cooper Cronk has highlighted how NSW's hopes of victory in State of Origin 2 will hinge on how much work Latrell Mitchell is willing to do and whether he can keep showing up while under fatigue. Mitchell will play his first Origin game since 2021 when he runs out for the Blues at the MCG next Wednesday.

The South Sydney star has been in barnstorming form over the last month, and Michael Maguire couldn't ignore him any longer - especially when Joseph Suaalii was hit with a four-game suspension. Mitchell shapes as an x-factor for the Blues and one of their keys to victory.

But former teammate Cronk says it will all come down to how much Mitchell is willing to put in for his state. Cronk played with Mitchell at the Roosters in 2018 and 2019, and has first-hand experience of his ability to perform in big games.

Latrell Mitchell and Cooper Cronk.
Cooper Cronk has highlighted the glaring reality about Latrell Mitchell. Image: AAP/Getty

Speaking on the Matty Johns Podcast this week, the Queensland great said: "It really is up to Latrell. When he wants to be involved, he can be the best player on the field. When he doesn’t want to be involved, he’s really hard to drag in.

"Like you’ll say, ‘put this play on’ and he’ll say 'no', but then when he wants the ball, he’ll say ‘just give me the ball’. It really depends on the mood he’s in. If he goes after the contest like he has the last couple of weeks, he is very good, so I don’t think motivation will be the issue for Latrell.

"I think the fact will be when he gets fatigued and when there’s tired moments, will he still be able to hold his gloves up? I see why they picked him. I don’t know why they picked him in Game 2 when they didn’t pick him in Game 1. He’s an out-and-out star and he can literally win you the game with one touch. In the 2019 grand final he did exactly that."

Latrell Mitchell, pictured here in State of Origin camp with the NSW Blues.
Latrell Mitchell in State of Origin camp. Image: AAP
Cooper Cronk and Latrell Mitchell in 2019.
Cooper Cronk and Latrell Mitchell in action for the Roosters in 2019. Image: Getty


Johns predicted that having Mitchell outside him will bring out the best in five-eighth Jarome Luai. "I think it’ll really suit Jarome because I find that Jarome’s best football is when he is very clear cut," Johns said. "He either takes the defence on or feeds it early. I always liked playing alongside guys like Matt Gidley and Timana Tahu because you took the guesswork out and let them have the ball.

Cronk added: "Having Latrell on his side gives the threat of Jarome to run because once the defence’s eyes go to Latrell, which is a huge presence. We know what Jarome can do with a bit of space."

Valentine Holmes, who will be marking up against Mitchell, vowed on Wednesday not to let him have it easy. "It is a while since he has played in the Origin arena so we will try and get to him in ways that slow him up a bit," the Maroons centre said. "I have just got be in his face and make my tackles.

"In club footy when I play centre and he is fullback (for South Sydney) and he sweeps around the back you try and make decisions on him. It has not been centre-on-centre because he hasn't really played centre when I have played it.

"He is pretty aggressive so he will probably come out and look to jam Walshy (Reece Walsh) and get into our back five early. We have to be wary of that and make him work a bit more than he does at Souths."