Latrell Mitchell in awkward development with Spencer Leniu in NSW State of Origin camp

The Blues players will have to bury the hatchet ahead of Origin 2.

Latrell Mitchell has vowed to bury the hatchet with Spencer Leniu amid an awkward scenario for the NSW players in State of Origin camp. Mitchell was highly critical of Leniu and vocal about what kind of punishment he should receive when the Roosters forward racially abused Ezra Mam of the Broncos in the opening round of the NRL season.

Leniu later admitted to calling Mam a 'monkey' on the field, but not before Mitchell came out in condemnation of the Roosters player. In comments that sparked controversy at the time because the case was before the judiciary, Mitchell said: "I applaud anyone (non indigenous also) for calling racism out. This is just something now we have to stay prepared to deal with which is the saddest part. I love my culture, it is something that should be shared.

Latrell Mitchell and Spencer Leniu.
Latrell Mitchell (L) and Spencer Leniu (second from right) are now teammates for NSW in State of Origin. Image: AAP/Getty

“For me it’s about making sure Ezra Mam is alright. I think after the game … it’s stuff that shouldn’t be tolerated and rubbed out of the game. I hope Peter (V’landys) and Andrew Abdo take serious consideration to the way this should be dealt with. For me it opens up a lot of wounds and scars for my people and my family. You do have to understand the way we feel.”

Mitchell also took to social media shortly after the incident, writing: "NRL better deal with this s**t". Leniu was later hit with an eight-game suspension, but Brad Fittler was among those to suggest Mitchell should be sanctioned by the NRL for commenting on a case that was before the judiciary.

Spencer Leniu in State of Origin 1.
Spencer Leniu in action for NSW in State of Origin 1. Image: Getty

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The controversy has been thrust back into the spotlight this week after Mitchell was picked for NSW for State of Origin 2. It means he will line up alongside Leniu in the second game of the series in Melbourne, and spend the next 11 days in camp with him.

Discussing the awkward development on Monday, Mitchell said: "Now the reflection is all done and everything's sorted. The NRL dealt with it and we put it behind us. We have to move forward and we have a job to do. I think me and him will talk and we'll let bygones be bygones… lessons have been learned and we'll go from there."

Leniu also addressed the scandal before making his Origin debut in Game 1, saying: “When you go through tough times like that, you’ll know really quickly who your circle is. The only opinions that matter are the ones in your circle. No one was talking to me for eight weeks except those who were in my circle, and they are only ones who matter. Stay staunch to who you are and what you believe.”

Mitchell will play his first Origin game since 2021, with his form of late too hard to ignore for Blues coach Michael Maguire. Mitchell has never lost an Origin series he's played in, but he doesn't see himself as a saviour.

"That's what you (the media) are saying. I'm going to play, have fun and enjoy myself," Mitchell said. "I appreciate it (being called the saviour), honestly I do.

"But if I put pressure on myself then I'll focus on that all week and my preparation will go out the window. For me it's about creating bonds, getting up to (NSW camp in) the Blue Mountains, rugging up and going from there."

with AAP