Trell ready to go mano-a-Manu
THEY have pushed each other to the limits as teammates now Sydney Roosters premiership winners Latrell Mitchell and Joey Manu will come head to head on Saturday night prompting Mitchell to declare there are "no mates on the field".
The pair will square off against each other with Mitchell making his debut for the Kangaroos and Manu for the Kiwis.
The softly-spoken Manu is fast developing as one of the game's best defensive centres - highlighted by his grand final efforts in helping protect an injured Cooper Cronk - while Mitchell is arguably the most feared attacking player in the competition with a fierce combative element.
While Mitchell is unlikely to reprise the in-your-face aggression which saw him outplay Will Chambers in the premiership decider, he has vowed to take it Manu with the pair having risen through the Roosters junior ranks together.
"It's going to be a good clash," Mitchell said. "We train against each other all year. We just sharpen each other up. It's shown throughout the year with what we've done. (We'll see) what we do up against each other.
"To play in the green and gold and him for the Kiwis, it's an awesome achievement for us. I'm honoured and keen to go up against one of my mates. There is so much competition there. We don't want each to be beaten by one another. We have to be on. That's why we tightened up in defence this year because we've been going hard at each other."
Mitchell said the pair had already exchanged a few texts this week.
"I don't want to show him too much respect," Mitchell said. "After the game we will be right. He will be the same. He has some aggression there. He is so strong. The last six months he has put on so much muscle. I'll give him the respect he deserves but then again no mates on the field.
"I should (know his game well) by now. He has a few tricks up his sleeve. So do I. It'll be game on. I'm just ready to play against him.
"I don't like to talk about how I will be on the weekend. It just comes. I'm competitive, he is going to be competitive. The aggression just comes out. People take it off for being grubby. It's just how I play to beat my opponent."
Roosters teammate James Tedesco has already witnessed first-hand the two go at each other at times during training.
He doesn't expect Mitchell to bring his verbal barrage with him.
"Joey is very quiet," Tedesco said. "Latrell is a bit more outspoken. I don't think Latrell will be carrying on too much against Joey because Joey is too nice.
"Those two go pretty hard at training. When we are doing things at 50 per cent those two are going at 100 per cent at each other.
"Latrell is a great attacker and Joey is a great defender so that will be a good battle. Joey had a lot of tests this year against guys like GI (Greg Inglis). He has nailed every one of them. Latrell has put some of the best centres on show in attack. It'll be a good test to see who comes out on top.
"They will get a bit heated. They get a bit heated at training."