Latrell Mitchell has been stunningly dropped on his 22nd birthday as part of a whopping seven changes to the NSW team for the second State of Origin game.
The Sydney Roosters centre’s axe comes after he failed to return to Sydney with his Blues teammates on Thursday and drove with relatives to his hometown in Taree.
Mitchell, who helped NSW win only their second Origin series in 13 years in 2018, was dropped after a lackluster Game 1 and off-field disputes with his manager.
NSW coach Brad Fittler’s decision to dump Mitchell has sparked a furious reaction from fans, with one user describing the Blues as ‘panic merchants since the 1980s.’
Latrell Mitchell has been stunningly dropped on his 22nd birthday as part of a whopping seven changes to the NSW team for the second State of Origin game(pictured with his girlfriend Brielle)
The Sydney Roosters centre’s axe comes after he failed to return to Sydney with his Blues teammates on Thursday and drove with relatives to his hometown in Taree
‘Queensland make two forced changes because of injury. New South Wales drop everybody. 30 years of #stateoforigin summed up in two sentences. #nrl,’ one tweeted.
‘Dropping Latrell Mitchell after one bad game is the sort of insane decision making that cost New South Wales 8 straight series,’ another wrote.
One added: ‘I just watched Latrell Mitchell play live. Scored 2 tries and kicked 5 goals. Simply cannot believe he hasn’t been picked for NSW for Origin 2.’
Queensland fans were also quick to poke fun at the new-look NSW team.
‘Not going to lie. I had to have a little giggle when I saw the NSW team selection for Origin – Game 2,’ wrote one social media user.
‘The N in NSW obviously stands for no loyalty,’ wrote another.
‘Queensland 3-0,’ bluntly added a third.
His controversial axe has sparked reaction from Blues fans and Queensland supporters, with one user referring to the NSW team as the ‘panic merchants since 1980’
Blake Ferguson, Tom Trbojevic, James Maloney, Daniel Saifiti, Dale Finucane, Wade Graham and Tariq Sims have all been called in to play for NSW in Perth.
Trbojevic and Jack Wighton have been named in the centres despite neither playing there for their club teams, while Saifiti will make his debut in the run-on side.
While Mitchell was heavily criticised for a sub-par showing in the game-one defeat, his axing will still be regarded as a major shock.
A Kangaroos incumbent, Mitchell scored two tries as part of an 18-point haul in the Sydney Roosters’ big NRL win over Canterbury on Sunday.
Fittler said dropping Mitchell was his ‘hardest decision in coaching so far’.
‘The nature of State of Origin, you need to be at your best. He wasn’t at his best [in Origin One]. That’s fair to say,’ Fittler said.
Panthers five-eighth James Maloney, who was previously unwanted before the games series, was called in to play in what Fittler called one of many big decisions.
The exiled playmaker helped orchestrate a 2018 Blues victory but also played a role in a series of disappointing Origin series losses in recent years.
David Klemmer (wrist), Payne Haas (hamstring) and Nick Cotric (ankle) are three forced changes after copping injuries over the past fortnight.
First-gamer Cody Walker, Angus Crichton, Josh Morris and Mitchell have been overlooked in what is a vastly-different looking team.
While Mitchell was heavily criticised for a sub-par showing in the game-one defeat, his axing will still be regarded as a major shock
Panthers five-eighth James Maloney (pictured), who was previously unwanted before the games series, was called in to play in what Fittler called one of many big decisions
Halfback candidate Mitchell Pearce was widely tipped for a dramatic recall but was ruled out early on Sunday due to hip and cork issues.
‘It’s really disappointing for him,’ Fittler told the Nine Network on Sunday.
‘He was really keen … I spoke to him last night and I knew he had a cork but speaking to him this morning and just then, he’ll be unavailable.
‘It’s a bit of a shame.’
Haas was also ruled out on Sunday with a hamstring problem.
The Blues are 1-0 down in the best of three series and will play Queensland again in Perth next Sunday.