The early morning rehab sessions that have Latrell Mitchell primed to produce his best NRL season
It’s early morning in November last year and South Sydney’s training base in Redfern is empty, except for one man.
Star fullback Latrell Mitchell is toiling away in the Rabbitohs’ rehabilitation room working tirelessly on his injured hamstring.
Only months earlier, Mitchell’s hyped first season at Souths was cruelled when he ruptured his hamstring against Parramatta in round 16 last season.
It was a devastating blow for the Bunnies recruit, who had planned to achieve big things under coach Wayne Bennett at rugby league’s most successful club.
Mitchell, though, was determined to rediscover his fitness and form, and it’s why he devoted endless hours to a dedicated recovery program.
According to Souths five-eighth Cody Walker, the early morning rehabilitation sessions while his teammates were on holidays have Mitchell – the current Dally M leader – primed to produce his best NRL season.
“The beauty of all of Latrell’s form so far is that he put the work into his body over the pre-season,” Walker said.
“It was obviously a fairly big injury for a young guy to go through last year, and it was his first big injury.
“I suppose that was the big positive to take out of it, which sounds weird to take a positive out of such a big injury, but he was able to put a lot of work in.
“He came back early when no one was here and he was able to do a full pre-season, whereas when you think back to last year, he didn’t start with us until January.
“But this pre-season he was able to get a lot of running in, and it just sets him up for a great year.
“The hard work that he put in over the pre-season – we are starting to see the results on the field, and it is a great credit to Latrell and the sports science staff here at Souths.”
Latrell Mitchell has started the season on fire, thanks to his dedicated recovery from a hamstring injury over the pre-season. Picture: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images.Source:Getty Images
Mitchell’s intense recovery process has been written all over his impressive start to the 2021 season for South Sydney.
His strong fitness base built from the pre-season allowed him to play 70 minutes for the Indigenous All Stars in his opening trial back in February.
He then backed up that performance with a 40-minute clinic to sink a hapless St George Illawarra in the Charity Shield in Mudgee.
After inking a new Rabbitohs deal during the week, he then repaid the club with three try assists and a try in a first-half masterclass against the Dragons.
He also had 107 run metres, three tackle busts, two linebreaks and three linebreak assists, with no errors.
Mitchell continued his classy form into the NRL season.
He is leading the Dally M count on seven points following dominant displays against Melbourne, Manly and the Roosters.
And the Rabbitohs flyer has achieved it all with a beaming smile on his face despite numerous challenges, including initial talk that he isn’t a fullback.
Walker is blown away by Mitchell’s ability to brush off criticism for such a young man.
“You look back at what he has gone through in his career, and to be so strong minded and still have this big smile on his face is quite amazing,” he said.
“For such a young kid as well. He is only 23.”
Latrell Mitchell is primed to produce his best NRL season. Picture: Matt King/Getty Images.Source:Getty Images
Walker laughed out loud when asked what his maturity and focus was like at the same age as Mitchell.
“So, yeah, you do admire Latrell,” he said.
“I admire the strength that he has to be able to cop so much at an early part of his career and just keep turning up.
“He has good support, a great family and parents – he is a really good family man.
“We are so lucky to have Latrell at a club like Souths.”
A major key to Mitchell’s success is the balance he has found away from the bright lights of rugby league.
He is no longer just Latrell the footballer, and he has big plans for the future off the field.
“I’ve always had a plan A to play rugby league and I’ve never had a plan B until 12 months ago when I bought my own block of land (in Taree),” Mitchell revealed on the Matty Johns Show.
“I just wanted to start my own cattle business and get right into it. I’ve always been passionate about it, and I’ve always grown up around farms.
“I really enjoy it and I’m striving towards it.”
For now, the farm can wait; a fit and firing Mitchell is focused on helping the Rabbitohs hunt down another premiership.
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