Latrell Mitchell in major State of Origin development as Cameron Murray creates NSW selection headache

The Souths star has made an irresistible case for Blues selection.

Latrell Mitchell has taken a giant leap towards earning a State of Origin recall with an inspired performance in the Rabbitohs' 22-12 win over Brisbane on Friday night. In what was his last chance to impress Blues coach Michael Maguire, Mitchell had a hand in everything - from a bulldozing run to score his own try to being sent to the sin-bin for a scuffle - as the Bunnies were dominant at Accor Stadium.

Along with his usual attacking flair, the Souths fullback showcased some strong defence and a massive kicking game, making him an irresistible selection at centre or even potentially fullback for the Blues' must-win Game II. From the first kickoff, Mitchell was switched on. The Rabbitohs No.1 made an early break after the Broncos allowed a kick to bounce and while he was eventually brought down just short of the line by Jordan Riki, after sprinting 70m downfield to turn defence into attack, it was a signal of what was to come.

Latrell Mitchell left and with Cam Murray right
Latrell Mitchell has made an irresistible case for Blues selection as Cam Murray threw his hat in the mix for a recall after making a successful return from injury. Image: Getty/AAP

The Broncos were unable to handle Mitchell and his bombardment of wobbly bombs, with Brisbane coughing up error after error as the Blues hopeful's multi-faceted skillset, was on full display. Mitchell then showed what NSW were missing by steamrolling Jock Madden to cross the line in the 20th minute.

The No.1 played with purpose and passion and showed why he is one of the most feared players in the NRL when he is switched on. The Bunnies star is now almost impossible to overlook after his scintillating display on Friday.

Maguire reportedly opted against picking Mitchell for Game I due to reservations about how much the South Sydney fullback was committed to the Blues. But with Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii suspended and Mitchell starring in recent weeks, it would come as a major shock come Sunday evening if Mitchell isn't in the NSW side for Game II.

Mitchell's highlight reel on Friday consisted of breakaway runs, cut-out passes, huge hit-ups and massive bombs that sent shivers down the spines of the Broncos' back three. The 26-year-old also remained largely level-headed despite being sent to the sin-bin for 'escalating the situation' after Brisbane's Jordan Riki hit Cameron Murray high off the ball. However, most fans thought he had been hard done by in that instance as the majority of the NRL world called for Maguire to recall Mitchell.

After successfully getting through Souths' game against the Broncos in his comeback from a hip injury, Murray says he is confident his body is up for the rigours of State of Origin footy. Murray got through 49 minutes off the bench in South Sydney's 10-point win in what was his first game in six weeks after a hip injury.

The lock's return has him in contention for a NSW spot, with Maguire to announce the side for Game II on Sunday night. The Blues coach must decide whether Murray is ready to return to the Origin arena on June 26, and if so who he replaces from the Game I side.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 14: Cameron Murray of the Rabbitohs talks to referee Adam Gee during the round 15 NRL match between South Sydney Rabbitohs and Brisbane Broncos at Accor Stadium, on June 14, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Cameron Murray made a successful return from injury on Friday night.

One option would be for the Souths captain to start at lock, potentially at the expense of Origin I debutant Cameron McInnes. Another option would be to go without Haumole Olakau'atu or Hudson Young on the bench. The door could potentially also open if Olakau'atu (calf) or Liam Martin (quad) fail to get through the weekend as they make their returns from injuries.

When asked if he felt he was ready to play Origin off the back of one club game, Murray was emphatic in his answer. "Yes (I would be). I'll never say no to a New South Wales jumper if I'm ready," he said. "I love the jump. I love playing for the Blues I just have to see how we go (with selection).

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"I came away from (the Souths return) injury free. A few cobwebs out there, but happy with the two points." Murray's situation is one of several situations for Maguire to weigh up.

The Blues coach will also decide if he stays loyal to Jarome Luai and Nicho Hynes in the halves for the must-win clash, or call in the fit-again Mitch Moses or an in-form Cody Walker. While Dylan Edwards is named to play for Penrith on Sunday as he tries to win the No.1 jersey back off James Tedesco.

with AAP