Mitchell to lead All Stars war cry
LATRELL Mitchell is set to be rewarded for his decision to play for the indigenous All Stars and not the Sydney Roosters when he leads the war cry at Friday's match against New Zealand Maori in Melbourne.
The 21-year-old centre has skipped the Rooster's World Club Challenge showdown against Wigan in northern England on February 18 to represent his indigenous culture at AAMI Park.
Greg Inglis has most recently led the powerful pre-match war cry but missing the game with a knee injury, Mitchell is set to take over the key role.
All Stars playmaker Cody Walker said the imposing NSW three-quarter had put his hand up to lead the side and the group had been rehearsing to make sure it delivered on Friday night.
"He's keen to do that and last night, it was pretty powerful, getting the war cry done," Walker said on Wednesday.
"We were getting goose bumps and he was getting really pumped up, which was great.
"He's a superstar of our game and he's only 21; he's going to be a leader in years to come."
Andrew Fifita, who has previously led the Tonga team's war cry, said it was a massive responsibility but Mitchell was a natural choice
"I want Latrell; I feel like he's the right fit for that position," Fifita said.
"Him choosing the All Stars over the WCC is a sign of how much this game means to us."
Walker will partner Tyrone Roberts in the halves, with their clash with exciting Maori rookies Kalyn Ponga and Jahrome Hughes expected to be a highlight.
Despite the match being Ponga's first real test at No.6, and Hughes predominantly a fullback, Walker said they would likely prove a handful.
"I think they're going to be dangerous. Ponga is going to be unreal in the halves and Jahrome's had a great year with the Storm," Walker said.
"They're going to be hard to stop; they've got a great side."
The All Stars' strength appears to be out wide but Walker said they still need to make metres up the middle and put pressure on the big Maori forwards.
"You've still got to go through the middle and earn the right to play out wide," he said.
"We don't want to give it to Jimmy (James Roberts) and Latrell for the sake of giving it to them. We've got great wingers to finish off but the work's got to be done through the middle."