Latrell Mitchell will return in 2022 a week earlier than expected after South Sydney successfully had his ban reduced by one game on appeal.
Mitchell was initially billed to come back in Round 3 when his six-week ban for his hit on Joey Manu was served, but he’ll now return in Round 2 after the Bunnies argued that their fullback would’ve played for the Indigenous All Stars in the showcase clash if he wasn’t suspended.
With Mitchell getting his ban reduced, other NRL clubs with suspended stars looked to follow suit, with the Storm and Warriors arguing that Brandon Smith and Reece Walsh respectively should receive the same treatment.
Despite the fact that both Smith and Walsh would’ve likely been picked in the same fashion as Mitchell if they weren’t banned, SEN’s Michelle Bishop says their suspensions are looked at differently by the competition.
“South Sydney clearly did their research on this one, they found a loophole and Latrell will be lining up a week early,” Bishop said on SEN 1170 Breakfast.
“The Warriors and the Storm, they’ve put their hands up and they want a piece of the pie as well.
“But, the rule is very different despite the Storm believing Brandon Smith would’ve been picked in the Maori All Stars side.
“The Warriors also argue that Reece Walsh, given his parental heritage, could’ve been picked for either (the Indigenous or Maori All Stars).
“But, the rules only apply to Match Review Committee decisions, that’s a really important one to understand.
“Smith and Walsh, they were issues with breach notices for off-field indiscretions while Latrell’s punishment was issued by the Match Review Committee.
“So, the rule simply doesn’t apply, it’s not a matter about doing a favour or Latrell getting a leg-up, they’re the rules.”
Smith will return in Round 2 and Walsh Round 3 after they both brought the game into disrepute for their involvement in off-season scandals.