Written by Callum Walker
One NRL game stood out for more than just the entertainment on the field last weekend and that was the sight of Latrell Mitchell in tears following Souths’ victory over New Zealand Warriors.
Now playing at fullback under veteran coach Wayne Bennett, he played a starring role in the 40-12 demolition of the Warriors. He was also caught up in a number of controversial moments, including a high shot on David Fusitu’a and an alleged eye gouge on him by Wayde Egan.
The final whistle led to an outburst of emotion from Mitchell, appearing troubled as both sides departed into the dressing rooms. That anguish was confirmed as dressing room cameras picked up the 23-year-old in tears as Bennett and teammates rallied around to console him.
Bennett spoke out against questions from the media following the game, claiming that it was none of their business. However, in this day and age with dressing room cameras fixated on players’ body language and emotions, unfortunately for Mitchell, his reaction was always going to be brought up by the media.
Of course, being able to broadcast the dressing room gives fans and pundits an insight into what goes on off the field, from coaches’ team talks to preparation and rituals. But, sometimes, common sense should prevail and events such as this should not be broadcast, especially when Mitchell’s outpouring of sentiment stems from the fact that he has been unable to see his family due to strict NRL protocol.
— David Riccio (@DaveRic1) June 20, 2020
Players are human too; yes, training in a bubble can be good for team morale, but for those that are away from their family, it can be a very difficult time too. Mitchell is only 23; being in the limelight from such a young age will take its toll and being evidently close to his family will only exacerbate that.
Gone are the days that the dressing room was seen as a place to escape from all the attention, but that doesn’t mean that everything that goes on in there needs to be highlighted. This is particularly true when upsetting scenes such as those broadcasted on Friday night are raised in a post-match conference.
Let players show their emotions; there is no doubt that Mitchell has an incredibly supportive group around him, but that doesn’t mean that sometimes things get too much. After all, everybody knows that.
Dressing room cameras are unlikely to go away anytime soon – if at all in the future – but what can change is the hysteric reaction to a 23-year-old missing his family.