Roosters' Latrell Mitchell during NRL match Sydney Roosters v Canterbury Bulldogs at the SCG. Picture. Phil Hillyard
Roosters' Latrell Mitchell during NRL match Sydney Roosters v Canterbury Bulldogs at the SCG. Picture. Phil Hillyard

Storm in for lashing on Latrell’s turf

A Roosters legend has warned untested Melbourne Storm players that playing and kicking at the Sydney Cricket Ground can be "hell" and create "havoc".

The call from former Eastern Suburbs halfback Kevin Hastings came as it emerged Roosters centre Latrell Mitchell had become the undisputed SCG master - averaging an astonishing 15.2 points a game at the famous venue.

Latrell Mitchell has become the undisputed SCG master. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Latrell Mitchell has become the undisputed SCG master. Picture: Phil Hillyard

Mitchell's average is the highest of any player in rugby league history to have scored at least 100 points at a venue.

Amazingly this season, Mitchell has outscored the opposition 152-98 at the SCG and beaten the opposition's score in nine of 10 matches.

In contrast, not a single Melbourne Storm player has played an NRL game on the SCG and most have never even been to the stadium.

Only captain Cameron Smith has played there, in a Test against New Zealand 11 years ago.

The SCG Trust will allow Melbourne on to the playing surface for a pre-game training session, probably on Friday.

 

 

Cameron Smith played a Test for Australia at the SCG in 2008.
Cameron Smith played a Test for Australia at the SCG in 2008.

 

 

The cricket oval-shaped ground has long created difficulty for kickers, who struggle with the seemingly odd sideline angles and different wind patterns.

Hastings, who played at the ground during the 1970s and 1980s, said: "The winds can swirl - you never know what you're going to get.

"The winds can play havoc there. I remember playing Parramatta there one year and the wind would take the ball at right angles.

"And kicking into it was hell. Kicking in general play can be hard because the field is on a cricket oval. It runs at an angle and you're not sure of your bearings.

"When you run on, the lines don't seem to run square. That makes it a bit difficult. You're playing on a normal-sized field - the same width and same length - but it's about what you're used to with rectangular fields.

"This is a round oval on the outside with a football field in the middle. It would always run down to the south, the Randwick end, towards the old hill."

 

Kevin Hastings played at the SCG during the 1970s and 1980s.
Kevin Hastings played at the SCG during the 1970s and 1980s.

 

New grandstands have changed the wind directions but players can still struggle with kicking in general play.

"It is something a little bit different because it's an oval," former Penrith champion Greg Alexander said. "There is also a bit of swirling wind.

"There is space between the sideline and the crowd. That's the difference. It's spoken about a lot.

"But it's something you can become accustomed to pretty quickly. While they mightn't have played at the SCG, I'm sure a lot of Melbourne players would have played at other oval-shaped grounds."

Mitchell has made the SCG his own this season. In 10 NRL games there, he has scored 13 tries and kicked 50 goals for a tally of 152 points.

 

Latrell Mitchell has made the SCG his own. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Latrell Mitchell has made the SCG his own. Picture: Phil Hillyard

 

"The Roosters are the one side that if you're slightly off your game, they can wrack up a big score, and Latrell has been part of that," Alexander said.

"Any side that has been off at the SCG, the Roosters have just hammered them. Latrell has been in great form. His goalkicking has been terrific - he is kicking at 80 per cent.

"His point-scoring has gone to a new level."

Hastings, who started his career at Easts as a centre, is also a massive fan of Mitchell.

"He has been in a bit of a lull but I'm not saying he can't do something this weekend against the Storm," Hastings said.

"Maybe go back to basics, run hard, and he does have a step if he wants to use it. He also has some skill and does have pace. We have all seen what he can do."

 

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