Latrell Mitchell goes public with NRL retirement bombshell amid State of Origin heroics

The Rabbitohs and NSW player has admitted the speculation is true.

Latrell Mitchell has made the shocking confession he was seriously considering retiring from the NRL earlier this year amid a tumultuous time for the South Sydney star. Mitchell starred in NSW's victory in State of Origin 2 on Wednesday night, making a successful return to the Origin arena for the first time since 2021.

The 27-year-old has been in brilliant form over the last month and was rewarded with selection in the NSW team - and he didn't let his state down. It's a far cry from the situation Mitchell found himself in earlier this season when many were questioning his commitment to the game and future in the NRL.

The Rabbitohs fullback endured a tumultuous start to the year. He was criticised for his comments about Spencer Leniu's racial slur towards Ezra Mam because the case was before the judiciary, meaning Mitchell and fellow NRL players weren't actually allowed to say anything.

Latrell Mitchell in action for Souths and NSW.
Latrell Mitchell has revealed he was seriously considering quitting the NRL. Image: Getty

Mitchell was at the centre of fresh controversy just a week later when he dropped multiple F-bombs in an interview with Triple M radio after a game, and copped widespread backlash. He then spent a month on the sidelines for elbowing Shaun Johnson in the face, which sparked questions about his desire to keep playing.

He has since come back and returned to his best, but Mitchell revealed in a candid interview with Channel 9 before Origin 2 that he seriously considered calling it quits. Mitchell said he thought about walking away and returning home to Taree for good.

"I didn’t want to go through another year of - you know - of heartache,” he told NRL reporter Michael Chammas in an interview that was replayed on the Sunday Footy Show over the weekend. “But you cut back the layers and you can see the people who have made sacrifices for you and you want to make them proud.”

Latrell Mitchell, pictured here after winning State of Origin 2 with NSW.
Latrell Mitchell looks on after State of Origin 2. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Mitchell opened up on the backlash he constantly receives, which has culminated in opposition fans booing him during games - usually for no particular reason. He was booed at the MCG after State of Origin 2 while conducting a post-game interview.

“I just feel like a lot of people hate me and they don’t know me,” he said. “A lot of people hate me to make me the villain all the time so I tend to shut the doors on who I am as a person. That’s how I am at the moment because that’s how I’ve been s*** on. But I’ve learnt a lot from those situations being young. And being taken advantage of.

“The way I act on the field is a bit of frustration from off the field. Acting out, it’s not the way to play footy. It’s not the game I love. These short bursts of anger. That’s not me. That’s what just builds up over time or over the week or a month or a year of people just constantly at me. If media just shut up and let me play. Honestly, if you shut up and let me play there’d be nothing controversial.”

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However Mitchell said he wouldn't change his outspoken ways despite copping some of the backlash simply for being a proud Indigenous man. “All I’ve ever done was stuck up for my people. Stuck up for my culture and stuck up for my family,” he said.

“I honestly think back if I’d have just shut my mouth and get on with my job like everyone says I have to do now, I’d be the best player in the world.” But when asked if being less outspoken would make him happy, he said: “Nup. No way”.

Mitchell scored a try and had an assist as NSW thrashed Queensland 38-18 at the MCG. He said after the game: “I’m honestly not making it about myself. It’s about the people that showed up today, about everyone here in blue jerseys, blue shirts, our families showing up, NSW showing up. We’ve got another one to go. Very proud of the boys. Our week was very special, I loved it.”