The son of rugby league and Rabbitohs legend Clive Churchill has made a stunning offer to stand down in the wake of his shocking comments about South Sydney fullback, Latrell Mitchell. Rodney Churchill's explosive leaked text messages about Mitchell has sparked outrage across the NRL world, with reports Souths players would boycott future Clive Churchill medal presentations as a result.
The medal is awarded to the player of the match in the NRL grand final and was presented by Rodney Churchill to Penrith's Dylan Edwards last year. If the Rabbitohs were to go on a miraculous run in 2023 and win the grand final, the players have indicated they would boycott the ceremony after Rodney Churchill referred to Mitchell as "lazy", a "cancer on the club" and at times "an embarrassment to the No.1 jersey".
Speaking on Fox League's NRL 360 on Monday night, veteran league journalist Phil Rothfield revealed Churchill has now offered to stand down from presenting the award in the future. News Corp also reports that Churchill has sent an email to South Sydney powerbrokers to apologise for his actions.
“I’m embarrassed that I’ve tarnished my dad’s reputation,” Churchill said to News Corp. “I can’t take things back that I’ve said but on reflection, I regret all my comments."
Churchill said he was "deeply sorry" for the shocking remarks that have sparked uproar across the game. He's also reportedly offered to make a face-to-face apology to Mitchell.
“I was in an emotional state but that’s no excuse,” Churchill said. “I shouldn’t have spoken about anyone like that. The text message was then leaked and we’re in a position now where it has caused hurt to a lot of people. I should have just kept everything to myself.”
Leaked text causes outrage at South Sydney
Rothfield was one of the journalists who received a copy of the leaked text, which was sent by Churchill to South Sydney chairman Nick Pappas after the Rabbitohs' loss to Parramatta in Indigenous Round, earlier in the season. Rabbitohs bosses were understood to be furious about the text, with club CEO Blake Solly expressing his concerns to NRL powerbrokers.
“It was a private text to Nick Pappas to which Rod Churchill made a mistake of sending it to his friends," Rothfield said on NRL 360. "That’s where it got out and found its way into the hands of the media, so it wasn’t really private.
“There was that much sniping and nastiness at Souths last week, I actually applaud Rod Churchill for having the courage to put his name to it. What he said though was wrong. Rod is the family spokesman and it was inappropriate.
“He’s offered to stand down from that prestigious role of handing the medal out and that saves the NRL of having to get rid of him.”
Rodney Churchill's shocking Latrell Mitchell rant
The text allegedly read: "Where was the human headline Mitchell tonight Nicholas? Missing again, this was his big game apparently? Your club will not win another comp for another 40 years if this imposter remains at Souths.
"He is a complete myth who has the aboriginal cause paramount and South Sydney second, if at all. I hope you and family are well. Nothing was done and now this cancer that is Mitchell has ruined the club."
Churchill then penned a column for the Sydney Morning Herald after the text message came to light. He wrote: “If you look at it objectively, he’s been very disappointing and just hasn’t delivered (at South Sydney).
“In fact some weeks he’s been an embarrassment to the No.1 jersey. I think he’s overrated. And sometimes I wonder if he cares enough. It’s a fact that he’s being paid as a marquee player but hasn’t stepped up when required.”
While Mitchell and the Rabbitohs club were understandably seething over the comments from Churchill, league great Gorden Tallis said he didn't agree with the players' plans to boycott the famous medal presentation in future. “The way I look at it is Rod Churchill said it, not Clive. It’s the Clive Churchill medal, not Rod... Don’t worry about what the son said, it’s Clive’s medal,” Tallis said.
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