Footy star lashes Karl after criticising Indigenous flag
RUGBY league star Latrell Mitchell has hit back after Karl Stefanovic criticised his appearance in the NRL's new ad for season 2020 by saying it was "divisive" to show the Rabbitohs recruit standing alone with an Aboriginal flag draped over his back.
The TV ad drew a mixed response when it was unveiled on Monday night, as some footy fans claimed the code was trying to be too politically correct by touching on issues like racism, diversity and same-sex relationships.
Today co-host Stefanovic was among those to hit out, saying on his Channel 9 program the ad doesn't actually promote inclusion within the game.
"How do you unite the game when you have a picture of Latrell Mitchell on his own with the Aboriginal flag around him?" Stefanovic said on Tuesday.
"That's not unifying, that's divisive.
"It's putting him on his own.
"Rugby league is about indigenous (people) and everyone else coming together for the sport, not putting anyone on their own."
Plenty took exception to Stefanovic's hot take, voicing their disagreement on social media. On Wednesday, Mitchell used his personal Instagram account to post screenshots of people hitting back at the TV personality.
One of the posts shared by Mitchell said: "A week after indigenous All Stars and they back going after @iamlm01. It's disgusting. This man does more for the community and sport than a lot of people know."
Mitchell spruiked another post suggesting Stefanovic was being hypocritical by only targeting the Bunnies' new fullback when there were other players in the ad shown on their own.
"This ad shows (Charnze) Nicoll-Klokstad by himself, shows (Tyson) Frizell by himself. Yet Karl picks out Latrell standing by himself with the Aboriginal flag as 'divisive'," the post read.
"Once again blackfullas can't be proud of our culture without a whiter person's approval.
"Once again people must shut up and play footy, so that we can avoid offending the racists of our country."
Mitchell shared more posts showing support for him in the wake of the backlash.
Stefanovic was far from the only figure to have a passionate response to the ad, which features the NRL's current superstars being turned on to the game by Tina Turner's iconic tune "Simply the Best", which was rugby league's anthem in 1989.
The Daily Telegraph's Paul Kent said the ad "looks like it was put together by committees and interest groups".
"In attempting to be courageous and visionary the NRL's new ad has failed miserably. It is neither courageous nor visionary," he wrote.
"Instead the new ad is stale and cliched and, if you wanted to insult high schoolers, nothing better than ninth graders could trot out in film class."
Sky News host Rowan Dean also took issue with Mitchell's cameo.
"It's a great ad and it does all the right things in harking back to … an era that was great for the game, which was the best ad they ever did - and their research groups would have said 'why can't you just run that ad again?' and they would have thought 'how do we do it?'," Dean said.
"Someone's had a very clever idea … their copyrighter or art director has gone 'let's show the kids watching (the ad) and then they grow up and play the game'.
"Fantastic. That was the idea. But then, someone else around the committee room has said 'ooh, but we've got to get in the aboriginal thing, and we've got to get in the sheilas, and we've got to get in this, and we've got to get in that'.
"And to me they've utterly destroyed it with that ridiculous shot of the flag on the back … Why bring politics into something like this, at a time when politics is dividing the game? When you've had talkback radio going berserk. When you've had people say 'we're not going to sing the anthem'."