Rugby League

Sydney Roosters young gun Latrell Mitchell had self-doubts after gruelling pre-season

A 90-metre runaway try was enough to justify the hype surrounding Roosters youngster Latrell Mitchell, but it was the pre-season demands which had the 18-year-old pondering his choice to be a professional footballer. 

Mitchell headlined a list of uncapped rookies who have lit up the Auckland Nines tournament, with others such as teammate Joseph Manu, North Queensland's Gideon Gela-Mosby, Melbourne's Curtis Scott and Parramatta's Bevan French also starring. 

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Manly take two big scalps at NRL Nines but at a cost

Manly, Melbourne and Cronulla are the only teams to remain unbeaten after day one of the NRL Auckland Nines but the Sea Eagles are counting the cost with skipper Jake Trobjevic and utility Jamie Buhrer ruled out for the remainder of the tournament with injury.

Mitchell has been the most talked about junior in recent time and he gave a glimpse of why many experts predict he will become the Roosters' long-term No.1 option, scoring a try in each of his team's pool games, including a double against the Eels. He showcased his speed with a length-of-the-field effort in the Roosters' final pool game, a 26-7 win against Melbourne.

"It was a good experience for me to come over and finally getting a taste of what the NRL could be like," Mitchell said. "The crowd was amazing I loved it out there.

"It was tough at first. I started building momentum through it and got through it at the end. It's good now to get some footy [and be] back into it."

The Roosters have tried to keep a lid on Mitchell, keeping him off-limits to the media until after Sunday's game. But Mitchell knows the excitement surrounding him.

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"The hype is big but, at the end of the day, I've got to play footy and enjoy it," Mitchell said.

 The Australian Schoolboys representative had a tough initiation before the tournament, struggling with the step up to full-time training in the off-season.

So much so he questioned his desire to continue. 

"The running was pretty mental," Mitchell said after finishing his first pre-season. "It was all in my head and I was thinking 'why am I doing this'? 'Why did I choose to play footy'?

"It was tiring at first, I was stuffed. The long-distance running, I'm more short distance. When it's time to run long, I run but it's an effort.

"They are starting to get me into practising running long and still being able to keep going during endurance." 

Former centre Blake Ferguson will get first crack at full-back following Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's departure to the Warriors. But it is only a matter of time before Mitchell will make his mark in the NRL. While Mitchell wants to apply pressure to Ferguson he is being patient.

"Fergo is the man that Robbo [Roosters coach Trent Robinson] wants to be there but there is competition there between me, him and Omar Slaimankhel," Mitchell said. "That's what keeps us all honest. At the end of the day, they'll choose whoever is the hardest worker.

"Hopefully one day Robbo says: 'You're ready'. I'm just waiting for him. I'm not rushing anything. He said he isn't rushing. He knows when I'm going to be ready."

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