Paul Kent believes Latrell Mitchell is an instinctive thinker and player after he sparked off Souths’ clash with the Leopards with a hidden slide in Penrith’s title defense amid a player exodus.
There were “some cracks in the windshield” in Penrith, said Mitchell after their first-round loss to the Broncos amid turmoil surrounding Jarome Louie’s disappointment with Khaiman Salmon.
“He shoots first, thinks later about Latrell,” Kent said on NRL 360.
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“I absolutely love it. Good on him. He’s an instinctive player and an instinctive thinker.
He just says what he thinks. He hasn’t thought much of the questions that might be put of him. He probably hasn’t thought much of Penrith to be honest.
“He’s bitter and that’s where he’s at. I think there’s legitimate evidence to support him.”
“I just think he’s reacting. I don’t think he’s planning. I just think he’s reacting.”
However, Kent believes the Panthers will not panic after their first loss to the Broncos and still deserve the favor in the showdown with Souths at Plubit Stadium.
“Penrith was a little weak,” said Kent.
“But they lost by just one point at the weekend. They weren’t terrible. They’ll be fine.”
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“I actually think Penrith given who won’t be there for Souths should actually run out of candidates.”
Dave Riccio believes Souths have acquired the Panthers at the right time given their growing pains after losing key players and on the back of an abbreviated pre-season due to the World Cup.
“I think Souths will not be happy but they will be content with playing Penrith very early in the season,” Riccio said.
“I think the Leopards were always going to get off to a bit of a rocky start, not only because of key losses to Kikao and Coroaçao, but they had a bunch of players involved in the World Cup.
“It really shortened pre-season time and preparation together and time on the field.
“I think Souths will be excited to get the Leopards now.”
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Braith Anasta praised Mitchell’s confidence, but wondered if his comments could be traceable back to Southern Bite.
“I love the fact that he’s out and I love the fact that Latrell only says what he thinks,” said Anasta.
“But do you think it could backfire at all?”
Crowley believes Mitchell could eat his words if he is unable to overcome his knee injury and get on the court.
“It backfires if he doesn’t play,” Crowley said.
“He will want to be there. There is a question mark.”
“Jason Demetriou said he supports him to play. Everything suggests he will play.”
Riccio believes Mitchell’s injury is being managed and will likely replace him at linebacker against the Panthers.
“He sat in today’s training session and scored several goals without even wearing a shoe,” Riccio said.
“Souths have a training session on Wednesday morning, provided he adjusts to that he’s going to play.”
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Crowley believes Mitchell is looking forward to picking a fight with the Panthers to help stand next to a team that has finished its season three straight years.
“The Panthers are the standard,” Crowley said.
They are the successive prime ministers. South Sydney enter this season knowing their window is open. They have a side that hasn’t changed much.
“They are ready to fight for the title and nothing is better than having a chance against the champions.
Latrell is ready to fight.
Riccio believes Souths’ ability to play through adversity against the Sharks is a good sign on the way to their feud with Penrith.
“We keep talking about what Penrith didn’t get and I was really impressed by what South Sydney showed what they didn’t get,” said Riccio.
They lost Jay Aru to a hamstring and they lost Tatula, both out this week. They went into the match without Hame Sele, Jacob Host, and Siliva Havili.
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“They are regular members of the South Sydney bench and have responded to younger kids such as Duffy Mwale and Michael Che Kam and have worked for them.
“Souths have a deeper squad than I think they give credit for.”
Anasta noted that Souths coach Jason Demetriou is pleased with his team’s ability to learn on the run when things are going against them.
“Jason Demetriou was affected so deeply because he believed last year with the loss of these players and their lack of presence on the field and the fall of Tatula, they were going to lose,” Anasta said.
“He really thinks they have matured and progressed into a better team during the pre-season.
“They look very confident and I think they will go well this year.”
Crawley believes Souths’ improved attack, right flank and Lachlan Elias’ development are all good signs of their title chances.
“You could clearly see that against Cronulla in the way they changed their offense,” Crowley said.
“They’re using Lachlan Ilias more and Cameron Murray is helping there.
“And last year they weren’t such a threat on the right and they really missed Adam Reynolds and sometimes even the left edge would get stuck.
“But now he’s more than a year older. The south is the scariest side.”
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