Mitchell shuns glare, lights up NRL finals

Fatherhood, the fear of falling on the wrong side of the law and a humbling stint in reserve grade have left Latrell Mitchell hungry to light up the Sydney Roosters’ preliminary final at Allianz Stadium.

The budding superstar is taking comparisons with a young Greg Inglis in his stride but hopes to carve his own name now that he’s got his career well and truly back on track.

Mitchell’s spectacular late try, when he exploded into a hole, palmed off James Roberts and accelerated to the line to put Brisbane away a fortnight ago, was another breathtaking addition to his highlights reel.

Now the 20-year-old is relishing the chance to show his wares once more as the Roosters chase a grand final berth with victory over defiant North Queensland on Friday.

“It’s sort of starting to kick in; my first finals campaign. We always sort of have yarns about how far I’ve come, from Taree to the big stage,” Mitchell said.

Those yarns invariably take place with close family on the mid north coast, where the shy star – a nephew of tennis legend Evonne Goolagong Cawley – escapes to as often as possible to avoid the glare that comes with his reputation as rugby league’s next big thing.

“It was good to get home and go fishing and do what I love and get away from all the hype and the concrete jungle. I just enjoyed it,” Mitchell said after returning to training from another weekend away.

“I sort of just hide away when I’m up there. My mum and dad are pretty good at keeping people away.”

He credits those same loyal parents for putting him on the right track.

“Just being in a small, remote community, you stoop to levels where you know you can do a little bit better than that,” Mitchell said.

“So me and my brothers, we sort of had two ways to go. You either make something for yourself and get out of this town and make a name for yourself, or you go down the other way and go to jail, steal, rob …

“But to have my parents, the role models they are, to get me where I am today, I can’t praise them enough.”

Roosters coach Trent Robinson dumped Mitchell at the start of the year but the gifted back says the experience – and the birth of his daughter mid-season – have transformed him.

“You can’t explain it,” he says of fatherhood.

“The age of 20, I’ve grown up a lot, having something I’m living for now.”

Mitchell lives for his daughter and dreams of premiership glory after being given a second chance by Robinson.

“The two games (before getting dropped), I didn’t perform to what Robbo knows I can do,” he said.

“But to be able to get that experience and go down a level to play footy and enjoy myself and get back to ground base, I really enjoyed it.

“And to be back and performing for the boys and for the boys to be performing for me, it’s a pretty proud achievement.”

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