South Sydney boss Blake Solly has expressed anger and frustration at attacks on Latrell Mitchell from "outside" sources while revisiting rumours Jack Wighton doesn’t want to join the besieged Rabbitohs next year. The Rabbitohs CEO is deeply disappointed in comments from Rod Churchill, son of league Immortal and Souths great Clive Churchill, questioning Mitchell's desire and value for money.
In a startling personal attack, Churchill labelled the superstar fullback "lazy", "overrated", a "myth", a "cancer on the club" and "some weeks an embarrassment to the No.1 jersey" in texts sent to – or seen by - several media outlets. Solly accepts the Bunnies are a club under scrutiny after a run of poor form and the departure of high-profile coaching staff member Sam Burgess, but came out swinging in defence of Mitchell.
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"To say he's an embarrassment or a cancer to our club is outrageous," Solly told Sky Sports Radio's 'Big Sports Breakfast Weekend'. "In fact, more often than not, he's a person who we're extremely proud of.
"Those sorts of comments about a guy like Latrell are just completely out of order and from someone who probably doesn’t know Latrell as well as the people who work with him on a day-to-day basis. Is Latrell perfect? No, he's not.
"Is in career-best form? No, he's not. (But he's) a guy 12 months ago (who) we were marvelling at his deeds in a sudden death semi-final against the Roosters at the biggest stage of the season. He's a guy that lights up crowds everywhere he plays. The (NSW) State of Origin side was desperate to have him this year because he's a player who can win games and turn games.
"He's just been nominated by the NRL for a leadership award. He's a guy, with his salary, who bought his mum and dad a house in Taree."
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Asked if Churchill had a right to voice his opinion given the family's standing at the club, Solly replied: "Yes. (But) some of the commentary from people from outside the club, who have never really shown an interest to actually engage with the club (but) want to judge how and why we do things, is frustrating.
"It’s unfortunate and unnecessary and anyone who knows the true Latrell wouldn't be saying things like that. One of the great things about Latrell is when he makes a mistake, he owns it."
Solly also addressed the ongoing rumours Canberra superstar Wighton wants out of his deal with the Rabbitohs following the club's recent dramas. The Souths boss said: "(Head of Football) Mark Ellison and I were talking to Jack last week about his relocation and getting everything prepared for that. When that rumour hit, Jack texted me on Monday morning confirming he's coming next year. He wants to finish the season off in style with the Raiders and he's looking forward to getting here in the off-season."
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