Roosters stars call on fans to respect Latrell, Dolphin surprise Dally M leader, Dragons coy on Amone

Dally M Medal, dolphins, hamiso tabuai-fidow, Latrell Mitchell, League, NRL, nrl 2023, Rugby League

Captain James Tedesco and Luke Keary have pleaded with Sydney Roosters fans to treat South Sydney superstar Latrell Mitchell with respect during Friday night’s NRL rivalry match.

Mitchell returned to Rabbitohs training on Monday for the first time since Thursday night’s racial abuse incident at Penrith, after spending the weekend in Taree and ringside at Tim Tszyu’s fight in Sydney.

NSW Police are continuing investigations into the incident, which appalled the NRL and Roosters officials, with the alleged offender wearing the club’s jersey at the time.

Mitchell was routinely booed and jeered by Roosters fans in clashes between the teams last year, having left the Tri-colours for their arch-rivals at the end of 2019.

Feeling was also fuelled by his high hit on Roosters star Joey Manu in 2021, which earned Mitchell six matches on the sideline and left Manu with facial injuries.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 11: Latrell Mitchell of the Rabbitohs is tackled during the NRL Elimination Final match between the Sydney Roosters and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Allianz Stadium on September 11, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

(Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

However, last week’s incident has prompted fears of a repeat of the Adam Goodes situation in the AFL from last decade, when the Sydney Swans star was repeatedly booed after calling out racial abuse in 2013.

“We don’t want to see that in our game,” Keary said. “I think Robbo (coach Trent Robinson) was really clear about that last week. This is a tough period for Trell. He has been part of our family here. We all do love him. 

“Hopefully the game gets around him. He is going through a tough period. You don’t want to see our Roosters fans or any other fans of the game get out and just constantly lay the boot into him, especially in this current situation.”

Tedesco also backed the calls for Roosters fans to lay off Mitchell.

“All the players and officials, everyone deserves respect,” Tedesco said. 

“We play the game we love for the club, for our teammates and the fans. That behaviour (from last week) is inappropriate and everyone deserves respect. 

“I am sure that is how the game will be played on Friday. It will be a massive atmosphere, it’s a rivalry that has been going on for 100 years now.”

Hammer nails top spot

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow is mounting an early case to be the buy of the season with the Dolphins fullback surging to the top of the Dally M leaderboard. 

The Hammer has been powerful for the new club in their two upset wins, scoring two tries in the victory over Canberra at Redcliffe on Saturday night. 

He sits in outright first spot on 8 points under the revised format where two judges enter 3-2-1 votes. 

Warriors skipper Tohu Harris is one vote behind in second with a group of nine players tied for third, including Broncos fullback Reece Walsh for his unanimous man of the match effort in his club debut against the Cowboys on Friday. 

After the Dolphins beat Canberra to join Brisbane and Melbourne as the only teams to win their first two NRL games, the former Cowboys speedster was overjoyed.

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“It’s crazy,” he said. “There was some chat that we would win one game (all season), but we’re two from two and the buzz around the club is so good. It’s been unreal coming down here and everyone’s enjoying themselves.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 11: Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow of the Dolphins celebrates scoring a try during the round two NRL match between the Dolphins and the Canberra Raiders at Kayo Stadium on March 11, 2023 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow celebrates scoring with a phins up Dolphins salute. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

“There’s some really talented fullbacks out there and I’m just looking to improve now. I thought I handled it pretty well considering the weather.

“In the back of my mind I just thought to back myself even though the weather wasn’t the way I wanted it to be. It was built in the pre-season, Wayne having confidence in me and me having confidence in myself. I’m only going up from here.”

Round 2 votes

Panthers v Rabbitohs: Isaah Yeo – 4, Nathan Cleary 3, Dylan Edwards 2, Liam Martin 2, Stephen Crichton 1.
Eels v Sharks: Will Kennedy 5, Matt Moylan 3, Toby Rudolf 2, J’maine Hopgood 2. 
Broncos v Cowboys: Reece Walsh 6, Ezra Mam 3, Payne Haas 2, Herbie Farnworth 1. 
Roosters v Warriors: Joseph Suaali’i 4, Tohu Harris 4, Sam Walker 3, Wayde Egan 1. 
Dolphins v Raiders: Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow 6, Jack Wighton 2, Sean O’Sullivan 2, Tom Gilbert 2. 
Storm v Bulldogs: Jacob Kiraz 6, Max King 2, Jacob Preston 2, Jake Averillo 1, Hayze Perham 1. 
Tigers v Knights: Dane Gagai 5, Daniel Saifiti 3, Phoenix Crossland 2, Dominic Young 1, Daine Laurie 1. 
Dragons v Titans: Ben Hunt 5, Blake Lawrie 3, Jack Bird 2, Tyrell Sloan 1, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 1. 

Round 2 Dally M leaderboard

8: Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow (Dolphins)
7: Tohu Harris (Warriors)
6: Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (Warriors), Daly Cherry-Evans (Sea Eagles), Dylan Edwards (Panthers), Harry Grant (Storm), Jacob Kiraz (Bulldogs), Jeremy Marshall-King (Dolphins), Lachlan Ilias (Rabbitohs), Payne Haas (Broncos), Reece Walsh (Broncos). 

Dragons coy on Amone return date

St George Illawarra have no timeline on Talatau Amone’s return to the NRL despite a change in the five-eighth’s court case meaning he is available to line up immediately.

The NRL stood Amone down in January after he was hit with charges over his alleged involvement in an attack on a tradesman at a worksite near Amone’s Wollongong home in November.

The five-eighth faced up to 14 years in jail, meaning he triggered the NRL’s stand-down policy that suspends players charged with crimes carrying a possible sentence of 11 or more years.

But Amone subsequently had his case downgraded from the district court to local court and his maximum jail term reduced to five years.

On March 7, the NRL approved his return to play but given the Dragons were set to name their team for round two that day, Griffin had little choice but to select Amone in reserve grade.

The 20-year-old lined up at five-eighth as the Dragons’ NSW Cup side fell to a dominant Canterbury outfit 34-4 on Sunday.

At NRL level, Jayden Sullivan partnered Ben Hunt in the halves for the Dragons’ first game of the season, a convincing 32-18 defeat of Gold Coast.

Amone was the first-choice five-eighth ahead of Sullivan for the majority of the 2022 season but isn’t guaranteed to return to the NRL when the Dragons face Brisbane next weekend.

“There’s no urgency,” Griffin said when asked about the Tongan international’s return date.

“He’s obviously had something to deal with outside of football, so it was important that he got a full game (in NSW Cup) under his belt today.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 20: Talatau Amone of the Dragons runs the ball during the NRL Trial Match between the Parramatta Eels and and St George Illawarra Dragons at CommBank Stadium on February 20, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

Junior Amone. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

“I obviously saw him during the week when I broke the news to him. There was obviously a lot of relief and he was happy and had a bit of a spring in his step all week.”

Hunt does not foresee chemistry issues if Amone is thrust back into the action at short notice later in the season.

“We’ve all been training together all pre-season, swapping in and out,” the Dragons captain said.

“Our structures don’t change depending on who is in there. I don’t think it’ll be a big change.”

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