Latrell Mitchell with coach Brad Fittler in NSW training ahead of Origin I. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Latrell Mitchell with coach Brad Fittler in NSW training ahead of Origin I. Picture: Phil Hillyard

‘Beyond a joke’: Fittler blasts media circus over Latrell axing

NSW coach Brad Fittler has slammed the media response following his decision to axe Blues' game-changer Latrell Mitchell for State of Origin game two.

Mitchell's dumping after a four-point loss in game one ignited fierce debate, but the NSW coach accused the media of trying to drive a "wedge" between himself and the Roosters' star centre.

"The media were just finding different ways to do it, and they did a really good job," Fittler told Channel 9 last night.

"People were just looking for ways to just drive a wedge (between us)."

Fittler copped particular criticism for not personally informing Mitchell of his dumping, with the axed player finding out from his NSW and club captain Boyd Cordner in the minutes after the Roosters' round-14 win over the Bulldogs.

Fittler had previously defended his handling of that situation, saying "there was no way I had an opportunity to tell them before we announced the team".

He added on Thursday night: "You know it's no good telling someone they're not being picked or having to drop someone, but you've got to deal with that.

"Poor Latrell. I feel at stages it was really irresponsible because it just dragged on.

"I had people interviewing me the day before the game mentioning Latrell's name and I said 'c'mon, let it go'.

"At some stage - he's a 22-year-old kid and he's one of the best we've got … but yeah at some stage it went beyond a joke."

Fittler doubled down on his high praise for the talented youngster, declaring: "He's a beauty and he's so potent."

The door appears open for a potential Mitchell return for the series' decider on July 10.

Fittler had previously stated that Mitchell just needs "to go play good" for the Roosters to regain his jersey, while NSW adviser Greg Alexander said: "Hopefully Latrell has a big game for the Roosters against the Storm, and you never know."

The Roosters take on the Storm tonight in a blockbuster Adelaide clash.

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