Published: 04:03 BST, 30 July 2020 | Updated: 04:04 BST, 30 July 2020
NRL superstar Latrell Mitchell has revealed he almost walked away from the game like AFL Indigenous icon Adam Goodes after being repeatedly slammed with racist taunts.
Since launching his career with the Sydney Roosters in 2016, Mitchell has copped racist abuse over his Indigenous heritage.
Last September, he was sent a picture of a jerry can with the words ‘found a photo of your best mate thought you might want it?’ in a vile reference to the petrol-sniffing problem in Aboriginal communities.
When he switched clubs to the South Sydney Rabbitohs three months later in one of the game’s most talked-about switches, the slurs only intensified.
Latrell Mitchell (pictured) has revealed he came close to walking away from the NRL after struggling under the weight of horrendous racist abuse
‘I thought, why don’t I just go get a nine-to-five job and not be in the spotlight?’
Goodes retired from the AFL in August 2015 after enduring two years of copping abuse on and off the field.
The Sydney Swans player was slammed for alerting security guards to a 13-year-old fan who called him an ape during a match in 2013, after which he was regularly booed during matches.
He was also slammed by some fans and commentators for imitating a spear toss and bellowing a war cry after scoring a goal against Carlton in 2015.
‘For him to stand up for what he believes in, and then get booed off, is very disappointing, and he had no choice. It affected his ability to play,’ Mitchell said.
The Souths fullback highlighted how much of an impact those experiences can have on a person’s mental health, and noted that Indigenous men have the highest suicide rate in the world.
Mitchell said his experience reminded him of Adam Goodes’ (pictured with his wife Natalie Croker last year) battle against racism, which drove him to retire in 2015
Mitchell said he could relate to Goodes’ ordeal, as he has had his own ‘demons and dark times’ dealing with racism, and ‘there is only so much a person can take’.
However, he said he was driven to battle on because he did not want to give his adversaries what they wanted.
The former Rooster has fast become one of the most celebrated players in the sport, pocketing an $800,000-a-year contract when he signed with the Rabbitohs in December.
Mitchell recalls other players encouraging each other to ‘tackle the black c**t’ when he was playing in his home town of Taree when he was just eight years old.
For him, the Blacks Lives Matter movement is not a new situation – it has been the story of his life.
Mitchell vowed to keep standing up to racism in the hope of carving out a smoother path for young Indigenous athletes to follow.
Mitchell (pictured with his girlfriend Brielle) vowed to continue fighting racism to carve a smoother path for Indigenous generations to come
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Latrell Mitchell, National Rugby League, South Sydney Rabbitohs, Sydney Roosters, St. George Illawarra Dragons, Adam Goodes
World news – AU – NRL star Latrell Mitchell says racist abuse nearly ended his career