Latrell Mitchell saga explodes as South Sydney players boycott Clive Churchill medal

Rabbitohs players will reportedly refuse to accept the Clive Churchill medal over comments from his son about Latrell Mitchell.

Latrell Mitchell, Rodney Churchill and Joyce Churchill.
South Sydney players will reject the Clive Churchill medal (R) over comments from his son Rodney (middle) about Latrell Mitchell (L). Image: Getty

South Sydney players will reportedly boycott the Clive Churchill medal for the foreseeable future over comments made by the NRL Immortal's son about Latrell Mitchell. Rodney Churchill labelled Mitchell "lazy", a "cancer on the club" and at times "an embarrassment to the No.1 jersey" in an extremely person attack on the Rabbitohs fullback.

On Sunday, the saga took another huge twist as the Daily Telegraph reported that Souths players will snub the Clive Churchill medal as a result. The medal is awarded to the player of the match in the NRL grand final and was presented by Rodney Churchill last year.

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According to the report, if a Souths player wins the medal in the foreseeable future they will refuse to accept it. It could make for embarrassing scenes if the Rabbitohs manage to produce a miraculous run to the grand final. They are currently eighth heading into the final round of the regular season and must beat the Roosters in order to make the finals.

Daily Telegraph journo Phil Rothfield said on Monday morning: “I’m not saying Souths are going to win a grand final anytime soon, they just aren’t playing well enough, but when they do there won’t just be a reluctance to go on to stage and accept to Churchill Medal. I think there will be a point blank refusal to do it, which is sad that it has come to that. The players are fully behind Latrell."

Rodney Churchill, pictured here presenting Dylan Edwards with the Clive Churchill medal after the NRL grand final in 2022.
Rodney Churchill presents Dylan Edwards with the Clive Churchill medal after the NRL grand final in 2022. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Rodney Churchill's extraordinary swipe at Latrell Mitchell

A text message allegedly sent by Rodney Churchill to Souths chairman Nick Pappas has been widely reported by a number of media outlets. Churchill reportedly sent the message in May after the Rabbitohs' loss to Parramatta in Indigenous Round.

The text allegedly read: "Where was the human headline Mitchell tonight Nicholas? Missing again, this was his big game apparently? Your club will not win another comp for another 40 years if this imposter remains at Souths.

"He is a complete myth who has the aboriginal cause paramount and South Sydney second, if at all. I hope you and family are well. Nothing was done and now this cancer that is Mitchell has ruined the club."

Churchill then penned a column for the Sydney Morning Herald after the text message came to light. He wrote: “If you look at it objectively, he’s been very disappointing and just hasn’t delivered (at South Sydney).

“In fact some weeks he’s been an embarrassment to the No.1 jersey. I think he’s overrated. And sometimes I wonder if he cares enough. It’s a fact that he’s being paid as a marquee player but hasn’t stepped up when required.”

Clive Churchill's wife Joyce, pictured here presenting Sam Burgess with the medal in 2014.
Clive Churchill's wife Joyce presents Sam Burgess with the medal in 2014. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

South Sydney boss slams attacks on Latrell Mitchell

On Sunday, Rabbitohs CEO Blake Solly shot back at Churchill and defended Mitchell. "To say he's an embarrassment or a cancer to our club is outrageous," Solly told Sky Sports Radio's 'Big Sports Breakfast Weekend'. "In fact, more often than not, he's a person who we're extremely proud of.

"Those sorts of comments about a guy like Latrell are just completely out of order and from someone who probably doesn’t know Latrell as well as the people who work with him on a day-to-day basis. Is Latrell perfect? No, he's not.

"Is in career-best form? No, he's not. (But he's) a guy 12 months ago (who) we were marvelling at his deeds in a sudden death semi-final against the Roosters at the biggest stage of the season. He's a guy that lights up crowds everywhere he plays. The (NSW) State of Origin side was desperate to have him this year because he's a player who can win games and turn games. He's just been nominated by the NRL for a leadership award. He's a guy, with his salary, who bought his mum and dad a house in Taree."

NRL boss makes statement on Latrell Mitchell

Mitchell's adviser Matt Rose has since reached out to the NRL, concerned for the star fullback's welfare. NRL boss Andrew Abdo said on Sunday: "The public criticism of Latrell or any other player, when it is of personal nature, is a blight on our game."

Rose told the Sydney Morning Herald: “It’s fair game when someone has an opinion on people playing football, but it’s the personal attacks by certain individuals that needs to be called out and removed from the game. It happens too regularly.

"When we’re talking about the issues that people face on mental health and we advocate on how important they are. Then in the same breath we throw all these kids under the bus if they don’t get something right or live up to someone’s standards. It’s unfair.”

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