Spending the off-season working on his farm, revitalised South Sydney superstar fullback Latrell Mitchell says he feels like himself again.
Mitchell endured a rocky end to the 2021 NRL season, missing the Rabbitohs' run to the grand final after he was suspended for six weeks for an ugly shot that left Sydney Rooster Joey Manu with a fractured eye socket.
His partner Brielle Mercy then received death threats after criticising the NRL's judiciary system while Mitchell was also a target for racial and online abuse through the season.
But the 24-year-old cut a relaxed figure at the NSW State of Origin awards, where he won the True Blue Award by coach Brad Fittler for helping build the team's culture.
Mitchell will miss the first two rounds of the 2022 season as he completes his suspension but says he's looking forward to getting back on to the field.
"I've just been re-thinking a lot of things, I've been through a rough patch but I feel re-energised and relaxed ... I feel like Latrell again," he said.
"Im looking forward to next year and want to stay on the field as long as I can."
Mitchell said he felt honoured to win the True Blue award after making a return to the Origin arena.
He was cut after game one in 2019 but made a triumphant return in 2021, playing a leading hand in the Blues' series triumph.
"It's good to be a part of history and I'm pretty honoured and privileged I've held myself to a standard where I know I'm a professional footballer but I'm a good bloke as well," he said.
"It obviously shows the passion I have for the team, being back in blue."
Fittler said Mitchell stood up when it counted.
"It hasn't been easy - when players go through those stages and hit the gullies and they work hard to get out of it and that's what Latrell did," Fittler said.
"Under pressure in the games he really stood up."
Australian Associated Press