Latrell Mitchell will not be playing in the opening State of Origin match after sustaining a calf injury at a training session on Sunday. NSW has confirmed his absence and that he will be replaced by Stephen Crichton. Mitchell did not travel with the team to Adelaide.
Bulldogs centre Matt Burton will be joining the team in Adelaide as 18th man. Last year, Mitchell also missed the series due to a hamstring injury. He scored four tries in the 2021 series and would have been the backup goal kicker if needed.
Assistant coach Paul McGregor initially downplayed the seriousness of Mitchell’s issue, saying “for me, he’s all right. I didn’t see anything major. Everyone’s got an issue at this time of year. We’re 12 weeks in.”
However, NSW coach Brad Fittler’s right-hand man Greg Alexander told League Initiative that Mitchell was devastated when he learned he would not be playing. Mitchell had to make a tough call, knowing that he will be missing an important game.
Campbell Graham, who was originally named 18th man and has been the form centre in 2021, withdrew from the camp due to a sternum injury. The injury news has placed the Blues in disarray, as Mitchell’s minor calf strain normally sidelines players for 1-3 weeks. South Sydney will also be affected by Mitchell’s absence.