I admit I got it horribly wrong about Latrell Mitchell

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I admit I got it horribly wrong about Latrell Mitchell

By Andrew Johns

Immortal Kombat

Resilience. I have no idea how you train for it or how your coach can coach it. But it’s a trait the Brisbane Broncos must find in a hurry.

For me, it comes down to your senior players, in key positions, having a hardened edge so they can hang tough in difficult situations. The young players follow them when they do.

But who in Broncos team can stand up in tough times? I struggle to think of many players.

There’s talk about Wayne Bennett going back to Brisbane to help out Kevin Walters, although he denied it on Wednesday. They can only hope.

The once-mighty Broncos need to find their aura again.

Every kid in Queensland wanted to play for the Broncos not that long ago. I’m not sure if that’s the case any longer, but it can be rectified if Bennett returns.

It’s a no-brainer, but that isn’t going to help them on Thursday night against one of the competition favourites at Stadium Australia.

Latrell Mitchell has been a revelation in the No.1 jersey for the Rabbitohs.

Latrell Mitchell has been a revelation in the No.1 jersey for the Rabbitohs.Credit:Getty


How Souths can win

The Rabbitohs are flying.

They’ve got a well-balanced team with the most experienced spine in the competition.

Two players in their pack who have really stood up are Tevita Tatola and Keaon Koloamatangi, although he won’t be playing because he’s suspended.

Five-eighth Cody Walker is also suspended but Benji Marshall will slot in on the left side in his absence.

Watch them really attack Anthony Milford and Tesi Niu in defence.

The player the Broncos will really struggle to stop is the big bloke at the back in the No.1 jumper. I’m usually wrong about a lot of things, but I’ve been especially wrong about Latrell Mitchell and whether he’s a genuine fullback.

The mistake I made was I compared Mitchell to the likes of James Tedesco, Ryan Papenhuyzen and Clint Gutherson; their work rate and what they do off the ball.

Mitchell’s different to them. I should’ve sat back and realised he’s not going to be that player. There’s no more powerful runner, a real strike fullback with the softest of hands in the competition.

Marshall isn’t Walker, but he will have a similar understanding with Mitchell in this match.

Hooker Damien Cook has also rediscovered his groove.

Teams have changed the way their markers defend. If there’s a quick play-the-ball, instead of chasing the dummy half, they fold back and join the defensive line. It’s a smart way to get a straight line against players such as Cook. They close the door.

Cook has adapted to that and is now playing off the back of a dominant pack that will always stay in the arm wrestle. They give the opposition no easy way out.

I have real concerns about how the Broncos can combat that.

Brisbane can can’t stay in the fight long enough to beat the good teams, as Ryan Papenhuyzen and the Storm proved again last weekend.

Brisbane can can’t stay in the fight long enough to beat the good teams, as Ryan Papenhuyzen and the Storm proved again last weekend.Credit:Getty

How Brisbane can win

The Broncos simply can’t stay in the fight. It was the same last year when they would fall in a heap after 20 minutes.

They were up 6-0 against the Storm and looked on top. Then, in the 25th minute, Papenhuyzen scored his first try. Within 11 minutes, he’d scored another three.

In the second half, the same thing happened. They held their fists up for 18 minutes then let in another three tries in the next 11 minutes.

Their spine needs to give a hell of a lot more than they are giving. I’m trying to think of a time this year when they’ve all passed the ball to each other and created something.

There are no trick shots around the ruck, attacking tired forwards. With the new rules, with the quicker ruck, that’s where the game is won and lost.

Jake Turpin is there now but perhaps Karmichael Hunt is an option at some point. He’ll take them on.

The one positive is Payne Haas. He’s just an incredible player.

Last week, he was clearly the best player for the Broncos. I just question how long he can sustain his effort on the field and at training.

He’s just doing it all on his own.

South Sydney can’t afford to lose Adam Reynolds.

South Sydney can’t afford to lose Adam Reynolds.Credit:Getty

Player to watch

I’m not sure what’s happening behind the scenes at Redfern. I know they’ve got some young halves coming through. But for the life of me I can’t work out why Souths won’t sign halfback Adam Reynolds for two years.

There might need to be some give and take with Reynolds dropping money in the second year. But it just wouldn’t look right if he was playing in another jersey.

There needs to be greater incentives from the NRL to clubs who want to keep local juniors in the last few years of their contract.

He’s been around for a long time, but the game hasn’t gone past him. He’s improved since he played for NSW.

He’s the best goalkicker I’ve ever seen, his kicking game is among the top two or three in the competition.

He does his job in the Souths machine. Walker and Mitchell provide the spark, but Reynolds keeps the ship on its path.

Letting him go would be crazy.

Joey’s playbook

After 20 minutes, at the point when the Broncos start to wilt, watch Cameron Murray get through the defensive line, get to the ground and then play the ball quickly.

If there’s one marker, watch Cook take off. Reynolds, Marshall and Mitchell will flood the middle of the field and they will tear the heart out of Brisbane.

The verdict

Souths just win. If they’re disciplined, complete and Reynolds gets his kicking game on, they will roll through the Broncos late in each half.

Patrick Carrigan is a big out for Brisbane. He works hard in the middle. They will also miss Herbie Farnworth on that left side. He’s a very talented young player.

Joey’s tip: Souths by 30.

First try-scorer: Alex Johnston

Man of the match: Latrell Mitchell

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