Jarome Luai's huge prediction about Latrell Mitchell in State of Origin warning to Reece Walsh

Luai believes he holds the key to unlocking Latrell Mitchell.

NSW five-eighth Jarome Luai believes he holds the key to unlocking Latrell Mitchell's potential at State of Origin level and says the Souths star is going to cause the Maroons some serious headaches in Game 2. The crafty half says both he and Mitchell are ready to rip into Queensland but didn't want to divulge any specific game plans, instead vowing that he and the Blues will put on a show on Wednesday.

The NSW camp was full of belief on Monday as they prepared for a must-win game at the MCG. And Luai says while the side is chomping at the bit to make amends for their Game 1 defeat, no one is more raring to go than recalled Blues star Mitchell. “F...ing oath, man (he's ready to go at Queensland). That’s the vibe he’s brought into camp,” Luai told The Daily Telegraph. “If he turns up ready to rock, look out.”

Jarome Luai believes he holds the key to unlocking Latrell Mitchell for the Blues. Image: AAP
Jarome Luai believes he holds the key to unlocking Latrell Mitchell and says the Blues won't shy away from targeting Reece Walsh. Image: AAP

Luai and Mitchell both played in the Blues' last series win in 2021 and will look to reignite the partnership that saw them dominate Queensland in Games 1 and 2 that year. A large part of the Blues' success in 2021 was down the left side with Luai linking up repeatedly with Mitchell and Angus Crichton. In those two games, Mitchell crossed the line three times while Crichton's offloading proved a handful for the Maroons.

And three years on Luai says Mitchell is as eager for success as ever as he delivered an ominous warning to Queenslanders. “If he’s out there, automatically you have to think about him and what he can do,” Luai said.

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“As an individual, there’s only a few players as gifted as that. He’s got that aura about him. All we want to do now is win and win for our state... That’s a big responsibility of mine to unlock Latrell and what he can do. I’ve done that before (in 2021). That gives me confidence knowing I can do that for him and for our team. I think our relationship will help that on Wednesday.

"You can’t really hear each other, but you see it, you know it’s on. I’ve got a guy like Angus Crichton outside me and he’s playing crazy at the Roosters. There are some weapons I need to unlock. I’ve got my own running game. We definitely have some options there."

Mitchell hasn’t pulled on the NSW jersey in the last two series and his match-winning ability has been sorely missed. But he's back in the team for Game 2 in 2024 and Luai believes he and his centre partner can help turn the 2024 series on its head.

“We have got a mad relationship, me and Trell. I’m so happy he’s back in camp. It’s been unfortunate the last couple of camps where he’s been injured with his calf and he’s had to leave late,” Luai said.

“It’s pretty special for himself. The last series we played together we got the job done. I know what we can do when we’re at our best. We’ve got the same management. We see each other a lot and do a lot for the community as well. He’s got good energy man, and that’s what I love about him... Right now we are willing to lay it all on the line and give our bodies for the state. I’m getting goosebumps thinking about it. It’s going to be a tough job."

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 24: Latrell Mitchell of the Blues looks to pass the ball during a New South Wales Blues State of Origin Training Session at AAMI Park on June 24, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
Latrell Mitchell hasn’t pulled on the NSW jersey since being part of the 2021 winning side.

Joseph Suaalii's illegal hit on Reece Walsh just seven minutes into Origin 1, saw the Roosters centre sent off and resulted in Walsh playing no further part in the game. Suaalii was retrospectively slapped with a four-game suspension for the high shot and Walsh hasn't played a game since. But the 21-year-old will make his return at the MCG on Wednesday night and NSW's targeting of Walsh has been a major talking point heading into Game 2

But the Blues have vowed to not shy away from targeting the young fullback at the MCG, with Luai explaining while it is not their intention to physically hurt the Queensland No.1, they will look to give him as little time on the ball as possible. "I think he's an awesome player so if you're one of those great players, there's going to be a target on your back regardless," Luai said.

"It's no one's intention to physically hurt someone the way he got hurt, but I think from a defensive perspective you need to have that mentality on someone that fast and that skilful otherwise he's going to hurt you.

"You can't go in 50 per cent or anything like that. At the end of the day that's Origin footy, things are happening at 100 miles an hour. It's a contact sport. He's a dangerous man if you give him that space and time. We're going to try and restrict him as much as we can by sticking to our systems and not much is going to change."