Latrell Mitchell says he’s disappointed that no NRL scouts were at the Koori Knockout over the weekend to spot the next generation of rugby league talent.
The tournament featured more than 100 rugby league teams from across NSW and former and current NRL players including Mitchell, Josh Addo-Carr, Tyrell Sloan and Ben Barba took part.
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The Newcastle All Blacks defeated Mitchell’s side Walgett 22-16 in Monday’s final.
The Koori Knockout is largely an amateur competition but it has long been viewed as a breeding ground for emerging talent and future NRL players.
But Mitchell said no scouts from NRL clubs attended the event.
“You need to start looking at the bigger picture and start planning for these things,” he told reporters on Wednesday at the No Limit Boxing promotion ahead of the Super Saturday Boxing Festival on October 8 at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre
“A big part of the knockout is going and watching, and seeing what talent we have.
“It’s pretty disappointing to see no NRL scout went down there and had a look.
“They should have been there knocking on the gate to get in.”
“It’s crazy,” Canberra Raiders star Jack Wighton added.
“Some of the best players in the NRL are Indigenous and you’ve got them all together in all age groups.
“There’s no better place to pick them up.”
Mitchell said the Koori Knockout was the perfect way to blow out any cobwebs from South Sydney’s preliminary final loss to Penrith ahead of the Rugby League World Cup, which kicks off later this month.
“It was good to get out there,” he said.
“I really enjoyed playing with Walgett, those Aboriginal connections. That week was just something enjoyable.”
Mitchell said he wasn’t worried about suffering an injury so close to the World Cup and Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga didn’t instruct him not to play.
“I haven’t played it since 2017 and so it was a bit of match fitness and I think Mal saw me enjoying it.
“He was watching from home, he was telling me. I’m ready to go (for the World Cup).”
“There’s no worries in representing mob and that’s what it’s about.”
Mitchell and Wighton have been picked in Australia’s squad that will travel to the UK aiming to defend the World Cup title.
“I think for us now it’s about putting pride back in the Australian jersey,” he said.
“Mal gave me a call, hard a good yarn to him. It’s been a while. It’s very enjoyable, you can feel that in the camp.”