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Mitchell moves on from swearing rant while NRL boss defends star's choice of words amid ongoing public debate

Andrew Mathieson -

Latrell Mitchell has not apologised but he was willing to explain what a live radio rant full of swearing was not about after South Sydney’s savage loss to Brisbane on Thursday night.

Ahead of the Rabbitohs’ traditional encounter against archrivals Sydney Roosters on Friday night in a must-win match, Mitchell took to social media to respond to his newest batch of critics.

NRL boss Andrew Abdo has called on Mitchell to sit down with him at NRL Central over the post-match chat on Triple M radio that contained the word f**k six times in a 30-second interview.

Despite saying on air that he wasn't sorry for the expletive use of language, Mitchell has been advised by his club that there is no ulterior motive behind the meeting with Abdo.

“From time to time to get language used that is regrettable is quite isolated from my point of view,” Abdo said on Wednesday at the launch of the NRL Multicultural Round this weekend.

“I don’t think this is an endemic problem and blown up into something bigger than it necessarily is.

“Having said all that, we have clear standards and we’ll maintain those standards.”

The NRL has already cleared the Biripi, Wiradjuri, Worimi and Gumbaynggirr man from facing any sort of suspension or financial penalty from the swearing heard by hundreds of thousands listeners since.

Abdo was forced to deny ongoing public speculation that Mitchell, as the poster boy for First Nations rugby league, and because of his status to speak out on important issues for Aboriginal people that the NRL has given him preferential treatment and overlooked his recent behaviour.

“We have proven in the past that when a player breaches the rules and we believe it warrants a breach action, we take it,” he said.

“Equally, we are accused of being too harsh on players.”

South Sydney captain Cameron Murray had already tried to smooth over any offence Mitchell’s on-air remarks may have caused.

Rabbitohs teammates have introduced a swear jar inside the Redfern Oval change rooms for training in a tongue-in-cheek response Mitchell’s actions from his highly-emotional interview.

“I swear a lot – just not in front of the camera, but that’s me,” Murray said.

“The good thing we do at this club is embrace everyone and empower everyone to be themselves.

“I’m sure if Latrell had his time over again, he’d be a bit more selective with his words but that’s what happens when you grab someone 30 seconds after a game.

“Emotions are still running high and you have a competitor, who just wants to win.

“There’s a lot of frustration in the air. I don’t see too much wrong with it.”

In response to a media post that outlined Murray’s defence of Mitchell on Instagram, the hero of First Nations fans succinctly wrote: “There was no intent. No malice. Let’s move on. Great week ahead. Friday night lights.”

But criticism has come back thick and fast from a number of quarters in the sporting media.

Rugby league voice Phil Gould has said there was less concern about the use of swear words that are not unheard of every day, but more so the “lack of respect” of the game.

“He speaks out openly demanding respect, but you also have to show respect,” Gould said on Channel Nine’s 100% Footy on Monday night.

“That’s what that was the other night – I am not worried about the expletive language.

“It doesn’t offend me, but at the time, at that place, on that platform, for him to do it is a total lack of respect.”

But Triple M broadcasters said Mitchell, a contracted NRL player, flaunted Australian radio’s “codes and practices” by repeatedly using the F-word.

“It has nothing to do with him being a role model – just be more professional,” Dead Set Legends host Brendan Annakin said on Triple M.

But colleague Candice Warner, a former ironwoman and also the wife of retired star cricketer David Warner, defended Mitchell’s honour, pulling out a list of former high-profile US sports stars, including the late Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neill and Tom Brady, who have also sworn on live broadcasts.


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