Latrell Mitchell needs a spell after Shaun Johnson elbow incident

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Latrell Mitchell has become such a lightning rod, the mere mention of his name can incite a riot on the ocean floor.

But even his most ardent supporters admit after the shambles of Saturday that he’s in drastic need of a stint on the sidelines.

The NRL on Sunday morning announced Mitchell has been charged with offences that will see him be suspended for three games if he accepts an early guilty plea.

The 34-4 shellacking to the Warriors was already another painful carbuncle on South Sydney’s backside of a season.

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But the club’s headaches have only intensified after two bizarre transgressions from the match involving their talismanic fullback, with the Match Review Panel and the internet agreeing penance must be served.

And rightly so.

It’s unanimous that Mitchell deserves time-off for elbowing the exquisite face of Shaun Johnson.

That’s because leading with the forearm is a nasty act in anyone’s language, especially when it’s an attempt to vandalise art.

In fact, it could’ve easily warranted a spell in the sin-bin or even a send-off, especially compared to Victor Radley’s 10 minute sit-down against the Bulldogs on Friday night which could only be generously described as a software glitch.

Mitchell also deserves time for his clumsy lifting tackle on Tohu Harris.

Again, this is because everyone knows that scooping a man by the stones is taboo in rugby league unless it’s purely accidental and/or Mad Monday.

But it’s not just punitive measures that warrant a break for the Origin star, with many believing he could also do with a spell purely to recapture his damaging mojo.

After all, he’s traded in his notorious physicality for passing to wingers on kick returns, a crime for a bloke who should be exploiting his size like a monster truck amongst matchbox cars.

And of course, he could also do with a spell simply for the good of Souths fans.

Nothing personal, just because they’re at the stage they’ll accept any circuit-breaker for an attack that’s playing like a blocked drain.

But all these reasons, as valid as they are, are second to the most critical reason Mitchell needs time-off.

He needs a break from rugby league for his OWN good.

At the risk of insulting all the professionals in the body language industry, Latrell’s disposition right now is of a man who’s not enjoying his rugby league.

The beloved Latrell from the highlight reel hasn’t been sighted for yonks, with his contact-craving runs and bristling confidence swamped under a blanket of reticence and grassed cut-out passes.

Sure, there’s the occasionally delicious tip-on or half-break to remind us he’s still fitted with Beast Mode, but it’s too few and far between.

Now he’s flailing arms and blowing up on the radio like he’s daring authorities to suspend him, it’s time to ask the question:

Is Latrell okay?

Obviously, not feeling yourself is no excuse for lashing out, especially for a firebrand with a wrap sheet full of the game’s street arts.

But nobody would deny Mitchell bears a disproportionate level of scrutiny in the game — some of it self-inflicted, some of it not — and the pressure must be a pain in the neck when every Souths game is treated by the public as a Watch and Act.

With every move appraised like an Australian Idol panel of 25 million judges, it means Latrell can’t risk leaving his bins out too long in case it results in an eight page liftout.

Perhaps with the light shining as brightly as it does on the Rabbitohs marquee man for so long — and seemingly increasing in voltage — he’s simply had a gutful.

Yes, we all agree Mitchell’s two incidents from the weekend were impossible to defend, and both warrant a break on the sidelines because on this trajectory, he might behead someone if he doesn’t.

And yes, if his errant attempt on Jackson Ford connected to complete the trifecta, he could’ve been looking at months instead of weeks.

But let’s also remember he’s been on a rollercoaster few years as the face of the Sam Burgess departure, Souths’ ensuing slump and numerous racism-based imbroglios, all while burdened with the club’s ongoing failure to break through the glass ceiling of premiership glory.

Perhaps Souths need to do right by their million dollar man and impose a month’s break, if only to grant respite from their own sordid mess.

Either way, give the guy a break, but also give him a break.

Dane Eldridge is a warped cynic yearning for the glory days of rugby league, a time when the sponges were magic and the Mondays were mad. He’s never strapped on a boot in his life, and as such, should be taken with a grain of salt.