Revealed: Reason behind Latrell’s post-match breakdown
Latrell Mitchell's emotional post-match breakdown was due to the stress and pressure of being stuck inside a three-month COVID-19 bubble - leaving him disconnected from closest friends and family.
That's the explanation being given by South Sydney CEO Blake Solly who claimed "there's no wider issues" after Mitchell was brought to tears following the Rabbitohs big win over the Warriors on Friday night.
The unusual display of raw emotion has triggered widespread concern across the NRL for one of the stars of the game, particularly after Souths coach Wayne Bennett refused to elaborate on why he needed to console a distraught Mitchell in the dressing rooms post-match.
On Saturday, Solly told The Sunday Telegraph that Mitchell's outpouring of emotion was a build-up of tension from the match and compounded by an inability to interact with those closest to him, including his biggest supporter, his father Matt.
"There's no wider issues, he was right as rain two minutes after (footage emerged of him breaking down), singing the team song, cheering and smiling,'' Solly said.
"He's been to a recovery session (on Saturday) morning, there's nothing more to it than the fact that he's a great young man, who has found this period tough, as have a lot of the players.
"Unlike the rest of us, the players have been unable to integrate back into society, they have been going to training and back home again.
"There's a whole family network that players like Latrell lean on for support, which physically, hasn't been there for some time. He's very close to his family.
"That time away can place a strain on an individual who counts on being able to see friends and family and so whether it (breaking down) was just a build-up of that after having played so well for us, it might be.
"But I do know after speaking with Wayne and Mark Ellison (Souths football manager), he was fine not long after and is again today.''
Mitchell, like all NRL players, have been forced to adhere to strict biosecurity measures to prevent the spread of infection which has included having little or no contact with the public, friends or family.
The rules were put in place by the NRL and NSW Government ahead of the competition's return last month.
However, those restrictions were lifted for the first time yesterday, allowing players and staff to emerge from their three-month bubble restrictions to be now able to visit a cafe, restaurant, family members or even have a round of golf.
ARLC chairman Peter V'landys said the relaxation of the rules was timely for every player - including Mitchell.
"They are high-level athletes with enormous pressure on them to perform each week so you would expect that they would be going through these emotions,'' V'landys said of Mitchell's situation.
"I sympathise with them and I offer them total support. That's why we pursued vigorously the reduction in the biosecurity measures.
"We promised the players we would do that and we've seen that through.''
The dressing room footage of Mitchell breaking down led Bennett to claim the players-only area was a "sacred place".
Mitchell's manager Matt Rose confirmed yesterday his client was "fine" while head of television at Fox Sports Steve Crawley said the broadcaster will continue to use dressing room cameras - as per the game's broadcast agreement - believing the vision gives fans the ultimate insight into players emotions both before and after matches.
"We have the highest regard for the club and the individual and I've actually written three books with Wayne Bennett,'' Crawley said.
"And I know how Wayne puts his players first, above everything else.
"I know how moved he would've been by Latrell's show of emotion, but as a broadcaster we highlight all emotion.
"I feel very comfortable that was part of the storytelling of that match, with the greatest respect.
"If anything, the audience has an even greater regard now for the athlete and the club, the way it handled it.
Originally published as Revealed: Reason behind Latrell's emotional post-match breakdown