Daniel Tupou of the Roosters is tackled by Josh Starling (left) and Daniel Safiti of the Knights.
Daniel Tupou of the Roosters is tackled by Josh Starling (left) and Daniel Safiti of the Knights. DAN HIMBRECHTS

Roosters shine without 'rested' star

LATRELL Mitchell is one of rugby league's brightest young stars.

Ask any type of pundit and they'll tell you he's a future Origin and Test player.

He's a gun, no doubt about it.

But Trent Robinson's decision to "rest" the talented teenager has created a bit of a conundrum for the Roosters coach, at least in the short term.

Robinson sensationally omitted Mitchell from the teamsheet on Tuesday, having benched the 19-year-old centre during last week's loss.

He insisted when questioned during the week it was a "rest", and he had not dropped Mitchell.

Robinson said the decision was not based on form, then in the next breath admitted Mitchell had been off the boil the past couple of weeks.

"Latrell's had a great month of footy, probably been off the last couple of weeks," the coach said.

"It's not about form or going back and proving anything, he just needs a week off and he'll get back into it soon.

"He's a future star of our game, but it's just part of his development."

Mitchell would be short odds to be named at centre when the Roosters release their teamsheet for round eight.

But it may not be all that clear cut.

 

Daniel Safiti of the Knights is tackled by Mitchell Aubusson (left), Issac Liu and Paul Carter of the Roosters.
Daniel Safiti of the Knights is tackled by Mitchell Aubusson (left), Issac Liu and Paul Carter of the Roosters. DAN HIMBRECHTS

The man who replaced him on Friday - Joseph Manu - was mightily impressive as he helped the Roosters down the Knights 24-6 in Newcastle.

His try in the first half when he bamboozled the opposition defence with some crafty footwork to break through the line was a highlight.

Manu isn't much older than Mitchell and is also considered one of the club's best young up-and-coming players.

It's not too far-fetched to suggest Robinson will at least entertain the notion of leaving Manu in the side, rather than drop him back to the lower grades.

What that would mean for Mitchell is yet to be seen.

Mitchell's gift is that he isn't pigeonholed as a centre. He can be equally effective at fullback or even on a wing.

But the form of veteran No. 1 Michael Gordon means he won't be giving up his jumper any time soon.

The rest of the Roosters backline, too, are making strong cases to hold their positions.

There's six men fighting to fit into five spots, and it's Robinson who has to make a tough call on someone.

The coach pulled another shock on Friday when he benched captain Jake Friend to start the game, starting Paul Carter at hooker.

Friend came on after 27 minutes and remained on the field, putting in his usual workload and leading from the front.

Chooks five-eighth Luke Keary revealed to Fox Sports post-game the reason for the bizarre benching.

"(Friend) was a bit crook this week, he didn't train much," Keary said.

"I think he was a bit under the weather."

So that's that. Mystery solved.

News Corp Australia


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