KIERSTEN DUKE: Latrell Mitchell must be picked for State of Origin Game II and the women didn’t disappoint

Kiersten Duke
The Nightly
Jessika Elliston and Shannon Mato celebrate the Maroons win and Latrell Mitchell playing for NSW  in 2021.
Jessika Elliston and Shannon Mato celebrate the Maroons win and Latrell Mitchell playing for NSW in 2021. Credit: Getty Images

Rabbitohs fans were bouncing with joy this week as the team hopped off the bottom of the ladder for the first time this season.

South Sydney were strong favourites to win the wooden spoon this year, but could well be the comeback story of 2024 if they continue to play with the same chemistry they did against the Titans on Saturday in the confidence boosting 46- 12 win.

Any doubts over the comradery within the group were put to bed. Cody Walker scored a double. First, from a Latrell Mitchell kick and then BY reaping the rewards of a cheeky offload from Jack Wighton minutes before fulltime.

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Latrell Mitchell was at his devastating best. From try stopping tackles, kicks that Beckham himself would raise an eyebrow at and scoring a meat pie himself. Trell ate up the Titans and spat them back out. They weren’t a meal. They were a snack.

Snacking away on popcorn while watching the show Mitchell put on was Blues coach Michael Maguire. The Rabbitohs star may have been left out of Madge’s Game I squad, but he has been forced to make tweaks due to injury and suspension.

Game II is a must win for the Blues after the first match was effectively over just seven minutes after the opening whistle was blown.

Joseph Suaalii sent Reece Walsh into next week with a high tackle powerful enough that we could feel it through our TV screens.

With our jaws (and Reece Walsh) on the ground, Blues’ fans then had to endure the next 70 minutes watching a team of just 12 players battle valiantly against an unrelenting Marron’s onslaught.

Despite agreeing with the ref’s decision to keep our game safe, to me, watching the following 70 minutes felt like nails on a chalk board.

It was a horrible knowing our boys would had to be at their best with a full team to beat Queensland let alone playing most of the match a man down.

The icing on the cake? Maroons’ assistant coach Nate Myles chirping “Enjoy your f***ing debut.” to Suaalii as he left the field. I wonder if Paul Gallen had overheard whether we would’ve had an Origin greats boxing match on our hands?

Could Mitchell be the saviour NSW so desperately needs? The haters will say he hasn’t been playing consistently enough to deserve a spot. I say, put a sock in it and pick whoever is playing their guts out at the minute. This second game isn’t about politics. It’s about winning. And Mitchell is a player who Queenslander’s fear. You can’t coach against him; he can do things that can’t be stopped and he has the ability to cause absolute havoc to their backline.

Despite all the drama, the boys didn’t overshadow Game II of the Women’s State Of Origin.

It was bitterly cold and pouring with rain at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle but the record crowd of 25,782 loved every minute of the thriller

The Maroons were hungry for a win following a Game I loss. The Sky Blues were desperate for back-to-back victories.

After 24 minutes of back and forth it was NSW’s Keeley Davis who made an impact just moments after coming off the bench. With fresh legs and fresh eyes, the girls were able to reset and see Davis squeeze through the Queensland defenders to get them off the mark in Bluecastle.

Sadly for Sky Blues supporters the Maroons fought back hard to level the score 10-10.

With no nails left on my hands to bite, it was former Aussie rugby sevens goal kicker Lauren Brown who booted a drop kick to secure the game for Queensland at the 69th minute mark.

Leaving me with my head in my nail-less hands. It might not have been the result I was hoping for but witnessing the girls create #herstory put a pep back in my step.

The game set a new record for national total TV reach with 2.217 million viewers, resulting in it being the number one program in both Sydney and Brisbane. Ladies, you are phenomenal.

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