After an impressive return from long-term injury in Round 16, South Sydney Rabbitohs fullback Latrell Mitchell has been named captain of the club for the first time ahead of this week’s clash with the Newcastle Knights.

Although he’s played at every level, it’s the first time in Mitchell’s 132-game NRL career that he’s been handed the on-field leadership role – and he couldn’t be happier.

“It’s up there with a grand final for me,” Mitchell told SEN. “It’s such an honour. I’ve never captained anything in any sport in my life.”

While the absence of Origin stars Cam Murray and Damien Cook has impacted the club’s on-field leadership structure, coach Jason Demetriou said Mitchell was being rewarded for his maturity.

That maturity was on display when Mitchell decided to make himself unavailable for Blues selection and focus on his recovery and club football, despite his dominant display against the Parramatta Eels in Round 16.

“Over the last couple of years it’s been a steady journey,” the Rabbitohs coach said.

South Sydney Rabbitohs Training Session
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 08: Rabbitohs head coach Jason Demetriou looks on during a South Sydney Rabbitohs NRL Training Session at Redfern Oval on March 08, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

“It’s a big sacrifice to leave the (Blues) and that’s been part of his journey as a leader.”

Demetriou said that Mitchell’s influence on younger and less experienced players coming in to cover injuries and representative duty was a key factor in the decision.

“He’s done everything in the game. If I was a young player, I’d definitely be leaning towards him.”

Mitchell and South Sydney will be looking to continue the club’s long-standing dominance over Newcastle, having lost just two of their past 13 encounters with the Knights in a period stretching back to 2012.