Latrell’s NRL fight intensifies as star fights $50k fine
Latrell Mitchell is appealing the $50,000 breach notice imposed by the NRL for supposedly breaking COVID-19 restriction rules at his Taree farm due to false evidence.
The 22-year-old superstar was handed a breach notice and $50,000 fine - $30,000 which was suspended - on April 28 after controversial social media photos surfaced of him with a number of other men including fellow NRL player Josh Addo-Carr at the property.
Addo-Carr was also fined $50,000 for breaching the rules, after pictures of him riding a motorbike at the beach became public.
Kayo is your ticket to the 2020 NRL Telstra Premiership, returning Thursday 28th May. Watch every game Live & On-Demand with no-ad breaks during play. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
However, Mitchell contends he was also fined for being at the beach when he wasn't, and that he breached no coronavirus lockdown rules because he was working on his 222ha cattle farm.
The Saturday Telegraph can also reveal at Mitchell's club South Sydney Rabbitohs have launched their own appeal of a $20,000 fine by the NRL in relation to the incident involving Cody Walker, who kicked another man during a filmed dispute.
Walker accepted his two-game suspension and a suspended $15,000 fine, while the Rabbitohs were issued a $20,000 breach notice for not alerting the NRL's Integrity Unit about the incident.
Souths will appeal that breach notice. The NRL was made aware of both Mitchell and Souths' appeals late on Friday.
South Sydney did not wish to comment. It's believed the NRL appeals committee will hold hearings into the matters next week.
Mitchell's manager Matt Rose said: "I can confirm we are appealing the NRL's breach notice and fine imposed on Latrell because of inaccurate information used to the impose the sanction.
"We are simply trying to clear up some untruths that have been circulating on this matter since it became public."
Mitchell's partner Brielle had already been booked to have the couple's second child in Taree on April 6 so the pair could be close to Mitchell's parents after the birth.
Earlier this year, Mitchell had purchased the cattle farm Caffreys Flat near Taree, and set up an ABN to run as a business - a move to expand his interests beyond football and set up his life once he retires from professional sport.
He soon had 20 heads of cattle on the farm, and is therefore considered a primary producer under NSW regulations.
Once the COVID-19 lockdown rules came into effect and it was clear there would no football games played for some time, it's understood Mitchell fast-tracked his planned trip to Taree so he could work his second job as a farmer.
His young family stayed with his parents while Mitchell and eight other workers - who were pictured in that photo with Addo-Carr - carried out jobs on the farm.
Mitchell's error was to invite Addo-Carr to the property because that did breach lockdown restrictions on the Melbourne winger's part, however the Rabbitohs fullback's case against his breach notice will rely on the argument that because his farm is private property, he could have up to 500 people on it at a time given its vast size and the four square metre per person NSW guidelines.
It's understood the NRL's original breach notice against Mitchell contained references to him riding a motorbike on a public beach, which was an offence Addo-Carr was found guilty of due to photographic evidence.
Mitchell will dispute that he was ever on that beach. He was only photographed riding bikes on his property.
The often misunderstood Mitchell has been on the receiving end of much public criticism since his rapid ascent to stardom in league; whether it be around his weight, perceived lack of enthusiasm, desire to be on the land and out of the limelight, and his high-profile move from premiers Sydney Roosters to rival Souths in the off-season.
The emergence of the photograph on the farm prompted outrage from some, given NSW residents had been told to stay at home.
However, if Mitchell does prove he was on the country property for work as opposed to a getaway camping trip, the basis of the NRL's breach notice will be in question.
Originally published as Latrell's NRL fight intensifies as star fights $50k fine