Latrell Mitchell at centre of NRL hip-drop furore in fresh fallout before Origin opener

Mitchell's sin-binning left fans fuming and it could have bigger ramifications.

Latrell Mitchell has declared he is "100 per cent" available for Blues Origin selection as he escaped suspension over a hip-drop incident against Parramatta that left fans fuming on Saturday night. For the second time in as many days, NRL fans were left seething after Mitchell was sin-binned for the tackle on Parramatta centre Sean Russell, while Eels forward Joe Ofahengaue avoided going to the bin for a similar incident in the second half.

Cowboys star Val Holmes was binned for a hip-drop against the Tigers on Friday night but escaped a ban, while David Klemmer was charged and faces suspension despite not being binned in the same game. On Sunday, the match review committee also spared Mitchell a suspension and instead slapped him with a $3000 fine with an early guilty plea, leaving him free to be selected in Michael Maguire's Blues side.

Pictured here, Latrell Mitchell sent to the sin bin for a hip-drop in the Rabbitohs NRL win over the Eels.
Latrell Mitchell was caught up in a hip-drop sin-binning controversy that left NRL fans incensed. Pic: Getty

Mitchell looked genuinely shocked when told by referee Chris Butler that he was going to the bin during the first half of his side's 42-26 win over the Eels, with the Souths fullback not losing his feet and merely falling naturally onto Russell in the process of making the tackle. It did not appear to be a typical hip-drop motion. The Rabbitohs and viewers around the country were then left scratching their heads when Ofahengaue was penalised for a hip-drop tackle in the second half but stayed on the field.

Butler could be seen explaining the decision to Mitchell, who looked incredulous at the idea that the Eels forward was not going to the sin bin like he did. And league great Corey Parker echoed the confusion, frustration and anger of fans all around the country at the inconsistencies from the game's officials.

"This is what frustrates so many - have a look at the crowd, they are up on their feet. It frustrates the living daylights out of the crowd and the spectators," he said on Fox League. "I don't know. At no stage during my time of being involved in football clubs and coaching, have I ever seen clubs coach that way going into tackles. Losing your legs, applying pressure to the lower parts of limbs - it's not done, it's not coached that way, I don't understand."

Fox League commentator Warren Smith said: “Latrell Mitchell is incensed. He can’t believe it and frankly, neither can you or I." The incidents quickly sent the league world into a frenzy on social media, with angry viewers calling on the NRL to sort the divisive issue out.

The drama failed to take away from what was a resounding victory for Souths, who still remain rooted to the bottom of the ladder but showed many positive signs against the Eels. Without sidelined halves star Cody Walker - who missed his last chance to press for Blues Origin selection - Mitchell stood up for the Bunnies and excelled at five-eighth when Jack Wighton was forced off the field with concussion.


Interim Souths coach Ben Hornby confirmed after the game that both Mitchell and Walker would be available if picked for Origin by Blues coach Michael Maguire. "All our players are available. If NSW want them, they're there," Hornby said.

"I'm expecting Latrell and Cody (Walker) to make the team. They're good enough players and they've shown before they should make the team. I know who I wouldn't want to be playing against if I was playing." Mitchell responded to Hornby's comments by adding: "100 per cent".

Seen here, Latrell Mitchell playing for the Rabbitohs against the Eels.
Latrell Mitchell starred for the Rabbitohs against the Eels to boost his hopes of being picked for Origin. Pic: Getty

With Stephen Crichton considered a lock for the right-centre spot for NSW, Mitchell is considered a strong chance to claim the left-centre spot for the Blues. The 26-year-old - who has not played for NSW since he was close to their best in 2021's series win - looks to be in a battle with Jesse Ramien, Zac Lomax and Matt Burton.

And despite his controversial sin-binning, Mitchell's Origin audition could not have gone much better as he made several bulldozing runs and set up second half tries with a towering bomb and grubber kick, while filling in at five-eighth for a concussed Wighton. He also provided a cut-out ball for Alex Johnston to score his 190th career try in the first half, as the veteran winger went equal with NRL legend Billy Slater in second spot on the all-time charts.

with AAP