Matty Johns' 'special treatment' claim as Mal Meninga drops truth bomb about Latrell Mitchell

Calls are growing louder for NSW to pick the South Sydney fullback for State of Origin II.

Matty Johns has made startling claims that Latrell Mitchell deserves 'special treatment' from NSW coach Michael Maguire, while Mal Meninga has also called on the Blues to pick the South Sydney star. Mitchell appears to be on the cusp of a State of Origin recall, with Maguire in need of a new centre due to Joseph Suaalii's suspension.

Mitchell has returned to form at just the right time and has never lost an Origin series he's played in. The Rabbitohs fullback hasn't played for NSW since 2021, but the stars are aligning for Maguire to pick him for Game II in Melbourne.

Latrell Mitchell, Matty Johns and Mal Meninga.
Matty Johns (centre) and Mal Meninga (R) have both called for NSW to pick Latrell Mitchell (L). Image: AAP/Getty

Maguire reportedly had some reservations about whether Mitchell was fully committed to the Blues' cause, or whether he was more focused on helping the Rabbitohs climb off the bottom of the NRL ladder. But Mitchell has publicly declared he's all-in if Maguire wants to pick him.

"The NSW team need Mitchell," Johns wrote for the Daily Telegraph on Thursday. "Coach Michael Maguire should tell him that privately and announce it publicly. If I was Madge (Maguire), I’d be in a fast car, with my right hand on the steering wheel and my left hand clutching a Blues jersey, headed for Mitchell’s house." Johns said Maguire shouldn't wait until Sunday to inform Mitchell of his selection, calling for the fullback to be given "special treatment" because "he’s a superstar, a rock star, a once-in-a-generation talent."

Latrell Mitchell in State of Origin camp with NSW in 2023.
Latrell Mitchell was in State of Origin camp with NSW in 2023 but was ruled out with injury. Image: Getty

Mitchell will get one final audition when the Rabbitohs take on the Broncos on Friday night. He will then spend Saturday afternoon with Maguire at South Sydney's 10-year premiership reunion - which might serve as an opportunity for the coach to inform Mitchell if he's being picked or not.

According to Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga, Mitchell's selection is a no-brainer because the Maroons will be breathing a sigh of relief if he doesn't get picked. “(As a Queenslander) I’d prefer to see him out,” Meninga said on SEN radio. “People have been saying if he’s on or not but I know Latrell pretty well and if he gets selected in the Blues jersey he’ll be on, he’ll want to prove a point to himself obviously first and to his teammates and to the state.

“He’ll be on regardless of what other people think, he wouldn’t worry about that too much and he’ll be a danger if he gets picked. He’s just a beast, he’s (got) an aura about him.

“With the ball, obviously he’s dangerous, he’s got great skill but I keep saying how good defensively he is. I’ve had him in the Australia side before and the decisions he makes, and the talk he has around him, he’s a very good talker on the footy field. He’s made for those types of events, the bigger the game the bigger he’ll play.”

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Also on Thursday, Brad Fittler and Andrew Johns highlighted how dangerous the Blues would be with Mitchell and Stephen Crichton as their centres. "When Stephen went over to the right edge once the decision was made (to switch in Game I), he organised that edge so well, he is an amazing player," Johns said. "Defensively the way he organises his edge and the way he reads it, he is an outstanding player, gee he's smart. Latrell, in."