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'Constant crap': Indigenous footy voices hit back at Latrell Mitchell critics

Jarred Cross -

Former dual international and Indigenous National Indigenous Sportswoman of the Year Bo de la Cruz says the media spin and intense negative focus on Latrell Mitchell “breaks my heart” as the Rabbitohs star continues to make headlines amid his club’s woes. 

Mitchell will serve a three-game suspension for his elbow to the head of Warriors half Shaun Johnson in Souths 34-4 loss on Saturday from this weekend, with the struggling club firmly under the microscope in last spot on the NRL ladder. 

According to reports, coach Jason Demetriou could be fighting for his job against the Sharks in round six. 

On Tuesday, teammate and close friend Jack Wighton resisted attempts to have him open up on Mitchell’s mindset during a press conference. 

"I said the other week when people started asking about Latrell. I'm not here to talk about Latrell. You want to talk about him, you ask him," the Wiradjuri man said.

"I am a mate, and a mate protects a mate without talking about him".

The Indigenous All Stars captain has been no stranger to scrutiny, racism and attacks from fans through his nine-year career, with booing from the stands and fresh rumours of a possible retirement presenting in recent weeks. 

On NITV’s flagship rugby league show Over the Black Dot on Tuesday night, hosts Dead Widders, Timana Tahu and de la Cruz defended who they said is a man falsely under attack. 

Widders, who played over 200 professional games between the NRL and UK Super League before becoming an NRLW coach, said Mitchell amid the Bunnies woes “there is one player cop and a lot of the criticism”. 

“I've been looking on social media and everyone is out there absolutely smashed and Latrell Mitchell for every little thing that he does wrong,” Widders said.

"We have never seen a player have that weight of pressure on him. 

"The scrutiny that he's under on everything that he does in the game, everything that he says, I've never seen that before."

Widders said the treatment is unfair for a young man, and he can see him carrying that weight on-field and posed a serious question for the footy community.

"He's a strong advocate for things that people out there don't fully support, but he's always stood up against racism," Widders said.

The former Souths player previously put the public on notice when Mitchell was subjected to racism from the stands in 2023.

Mitchell has been a strong voice in addressing racism within the game, including early in 2024 after Broncos half Ezra Mam was targeted with a racial slur.

de la Cruz added “I hate having this conversation, but it’s always coming up”. 

“All we see is his constant crap that is being put on Trell, and people are trying to justify it - all the racism he cops, all the crap that he cops because of his form,” she said. 

“He's a role model. 

“He's doing the shit for my sons and my daughter now, so they don't have to go through this stuff when they hopefully one day want to excel in whatever they want to do.

“No one knows him on a personal level.”

de la Cruz said “it really breaks my heart” for Latrell’s family to have to see the level of criticism he receives and negative media attention.  

“All he wants to do is play footy and he can't because he's got the pressure of everything else on him. Whether it's culture, whether it's footy, whether it's family, whether it's idiots on social media or in the media,” she said. 

"Why does he cop it? Why him?"

Tahu weight in that Mitchell’s “good character” has been left out of the conversation in the public and media forum. 

So fans need to just have a look at yourself and care about the person rather than attacking one of your players….There's more to life than just that sort of stuff,” Widders ended with.

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