NRL Rd 16 - Eels v Rabbitohs
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 27: Latrell Mitchell of the Rabbitohs looks on during the round 16 NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Bankwest Stadium on August 27, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Peter V’Landys has responded to the recent focus on crowds booing players, following Latrell Mitchell’s statements following the Round 25 clash between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Sydney Roosters.

Mitchell claimed that while he could accept the boos were part of the game, it was at-times becoming a pile on similar to that which forced AFL legend Adam Goodes to call time early on his career.

V’Landys has backed up those concerns, asking spectators to treat Latrell with respect, or the next generation of Indigenous youth could be turned away from the game.

After a heated contest in the final round of the regular season, the long-standing rivals will meet each other again this week with much higher stakes. But V’Landys has urged those thinking of giving Mitchell a hostile reception to think of the bigger picture.

“I have the highest regard for Latrell, what he does for Indigenous kids is inspiring,” V’Landys told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“Being a role model for those kids gives them hope in life. People should understand that when people boo Latrell, those kids are watching.

“What incentive is there for them to emulate their hero? I’m sure those kids who are watching would prefer he be treated with the respect he deserves.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 03: Australian Rugby League Commission Chairman Peter V'landys and National Rugby League Acting Chief Executive Andrew Abdo arrive a NRL press conference at Rugby League Central on September 03, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

“Don’t put (the kids) off by booing their hero. You’re not just affecting him, you’re affecting them. Give them some inspiration. When he does something brilliant, stand on your feet and clap him. He deserves the best, not the worst.

“He’s as highly valued as a person as he is a player. People should respect him for who he is – such a great role model.”

The Elimination Final between the traditional foes takes place on Sunday, September 11 at Allianz Stadium. Kick-off is at 4.05pm (AEST).