Just because you’re not a Latrell Mitchell fan doesn’t mean you should be celebrating a judiciary system that got his punishment so wrong, says Paul Crawley.
Just because you’re not a Latrell Mitchell fan doesn’t mean you should be celebrating a judiciary system that got his punishment so wrong, says Paul Crawley.

Crawley: 'Dislike for Latrell taints flawed judiciary call'

It was interesting reading some of the online comments that immediately followed Latrell Mitchell copping four weeks at the judiciary on Tuesday night.

What it told me was that a lot of people were mistaking their obvious and often immense dislike for Latrell with the fact the NRL judiciary process got this horribly wrong.

There is just no way in the world anyone with an ounce of football intelligence can swallow the fact that the tackle that gave Wests Tigers winger David Nofoaluma a bit of a bloodied mouth (yet did not cause any serious injury) was deserving of a four-match suspension.

Now, in no way am I excusing the fact that I think Latrell needs to grow up and play with more discipline - because at the moment his occasional brain snaps are really letting him and his team down.

And I wrote a column about that last Sunday in the wake of Saturday night's clash when the charges first came out, saying that if Latrell and also Cody Walker don't get the rubbish out of their game then they could well end up costing the Rabbitohs a premiership this year.

I stand by that.

But just because Latrell has a propensity to get himself in a bit of trouble here and there doesn't give the NRL the right to take after him with a baseball bat to try and teach him a lesson.



And that is exactly what they have done here because as Phil Gould tweeted on Tuesday night: "If Latrell Mitchell deserves 4 weeks on the sideline for that incident, I am an astronaut".

No Gus, you're not an astronaut.

Yet still so many fans on social media and comments posted below our online stories wanted to convince themselves that Latrell was deserving of an extended stint on the sideline.

As Carol said: "Mitchell is nothing but a big head. And he will never be regarded as a great. Good to see him pulled back into line".

And Ken posted: "Back to Taree and play with your toys. Should have got 10 weeks."

Les wrote: "That will teach him for leaving the Roosters."

And on and on it went.

Sure, there were also plenty supporting Latrell and the fact the punishment far outweighed the crime.


Latrell Mitchell at the NRL judiciary Picture: Toby Zerna
Latrell Mitchell at the NRL judiciary Picture: Toby Zerna

But it is also the reality that Latrell is without question the most polarising player in the game right now and I can't help but wonder if that played any part in his ultimate punishment.

While I am in no way suggesting that the judiciary or match review panel are corrupt or acted with any bias and that is what has clouded the judgment here, what I just cannot fathom is the diabolic inconsistencies this has exposed.

Especially when you take the time to compare this to other far more damaging incidents this season that have not received the same severity and in several cases no punishment whatsoever.

Now some will throw back at me the fact Latrell had three charges that occurred during the match against the Tigers and that played into the ultimate severity of the penalty.

But I will say it again, if that is the system then the system needs to be blown up and started with some commonsense factored into it.

Because there is just no way Latrell's lazy (and, yes, careless/reckless) arm raise at Nofoaluma was worthy of a four match ban any way you want to look at it.


Latrell Mitchell's shot on David Nofoaluma.
Latrell Mitchell's shot on David Nofoaluma.

As for the two separate charges of Latrell kicking out at Tigers forward Luke Garner, and also dropping his leg into Garner after a try, it is absolutely ridiculous he was charged for these incidents in the first place.

Yes, they were deserving of a concerning act letter from the game telling him to pull his head in or else.

But as Souths pointed out there were two almost identical incidents on the weekend involving Newcastle's Mitch Barnett and Gold Coast's Jonas Pearson that did not result in charges.

So again, where is the consistency in this?

And on the Nofoaluma incident, there have been other far more damaging tackles this year that have escaped punishment.

Like when Penrith giant Viliame Kikau clobbered Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and left the Canberra fullback nursing a bulging disc in his neck that will require surgery and is expected to sideline him for three months.

No charge.

Or Tyson Frizell's high shot that concussed Gold Coast's Phillip Sami a couple of weeks back, forcing Sami to miss last weekend round.



Mitchell has been banned for four matches. Picture: Toby Zerna
Mitchell has been banned for four matches. Picture: Toby Zerna

And then you have the grade two benchmark as I call it, that sickening Felise Kaufusi elbow that knocked out Ryan Matterson back in round two and Matterson still hasn't returned to the field a month later.

Yet Kaufusi took the early guilty plea and spent two weeks on the sideline.

And Latrell's tackle was not nearly as nasty and he will miss four weeks.

How does the NRL explain that if they are not saying Latrell was punished for who he is, not what he did?

Is Carol right, is this the NRL's way of pulling a "big head" back into line?

Or is it just the system that stinks?

Because no one at Souths is asking for preferential treatment, but it would be wonderful if it could at least appear fair.

Originally published as Crawley: Dislike for Latrell taints flawed judiciary call