Phil Gould has called for South Sydney coach Jason Demetriou to move Latrell Mitchell back to the centres in a bid to rectify the Rabbitohs’ stalling season.
But Andrew Johns and Brad Fittler have flatly rejected that idea as the Rabbitohs eye a clash with the Dragons in Cairns on Saturday, in which they’ll be desperate to retain their position in the top eight.
“He’s a dynamic centre,” Gould said on Wide World of Sports’ Six Tackles with Gus podcast.
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“He’s a dynamic fullback when he puts his mind to it, when the game goes his way.
“He’s got to force himself on the play a little bit more than he does if they want to beat the top sides.”
The game against the Dragons will mark Mitchell’s third match since his return from the calf injury that ruled him out of the entire State of Origin series.
He had little impact in his side’s 26-16 loss to the Sharks in Perth last Saturday, although it must be noted that hardly a shot was fired by anyone in a red and green jumper over the first hour of the match, which saw Cronulla burst out to a 20-0 lead.
Mitchell’s career has produced spectacular moments at fullback and in the centres, where he still plays for the Blues and Kangaroos, but his drifting in and out of games has long drawn criticism.
If Mitchell was to be moved to the centres, Blake Taaffe — who’s worn the No.1 Rabbitohs jumper on a host of occasions — would slot in at fullback.
However, Taaffe will be swapping Rabbitohs colours for the Bulldogs strip at the end of the season, having signed a two-year deal with Canterbury.
“When he does things that are so brilliant we want to see more of it,” Gould said of Mitchell.
“That’s where it is. So we’re anticipating or thinking he can do more of it. He’s kind of a little bit like a Ferrari; he waits for his moment, he waits for his time and he conserves energy until he can sense the moment.
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“And he does that very, very well, but he needs to do more if they’re going to beat the top sides.”
When the idea of Mitchell being shifted from fullback to the centres was put to Johns and Fittler on Wide World of Sports’ Freddy and The Eighth, the former Blues and Kangaroos teammates shut it down immediately.
“It’s hard without front-rowers … Everything comes off the back of your front-rowers, but not only that; your wingers get your sets rolling off kick returns,” Johns said.
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“Limited winger experience or no real go-forward and no front-rowers, you’re pushing it uphill.”
Johns praised winger Tyrone Munro’s “great potential” but said the speedster was still a “baby”.
The eighth Immortal also pointed out that although winger Alex Johnston is a prolific try-scorer, he doesn’t provide the strong metres out of trouble that Panthers dynamo Brian To’o does.
The Rabbitohs will face the Dragons, Knights and Roosters in their last three regular-season matches.