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Latrell Mitchell has delivered an emotional message to Stan Grant, saying he is “not alone” in his fight against racial abuse after the journalist and broadcaster made a discreet visit to Blues training to speak with Indigenous leaders.
On the same day Mitchell, Josh Addo-Carr and all NSW players wore Indigenous training shirts for one of their final tune-ups before the State of Origin series opener, the two stars paid tribute to one of Australia’s leading media identities after a tumultuous week.
Grant stood down from his duties with the ABC after the brutal backlash to his coverage of King Charles’s coronation.
In a statement, Grant wrote: “Racism is a crime. Racism is violence. And I have had enough. To those who have abused me and my family, I would just say – if your aim was to hurt me, well, you’ve succeeded.”
Mitchell and Addo-Carr have come to know Grant in recent years and the NSW Rugby League has used the Wiradjuri man for a number of their programs and welcome to country ceremonies.
ABC chair Ita Buttrose said Australians’ use of social media had become “unacceptable” and “abhorrent” after the treatment of Grant, who made time to watch Mitchell and Addo-Carr as they trained at Coogee during the week. Addo-Carr spent time with him at the end of the session.
‘I’ve got his back’: Latrell Mitchell offered a message of solidarity to Stan Grant.Credit: Jessica Hromas
“I cannot praise the man any more,” Mitchell said. “I haven’t got a bad word to say about him. He’s just a very special man. To be able to do that takes someone strong, to be able to come out with a stance on his own – and he’s not alone at the end of the day.
“I’ve got his back. Everyone that knows him bleeds like him. It definitely opens up a few wounds for me and my family, but I just want to let him know that I’m there for him. He’s a special man.”
Mitchell has pledged to keep calling out racism when he sees it. He said he had been racially abused by a teenage fan as he walked up the tunnel at half-time in a match against Penrith at BlueBet Stadium earlier this year.
The spectator has been banned until he apologises to Mitchell and attends education and training programs.
On Grant, Addo-Carr said: “I know what he’s going through and it’s nothing new. You don’t want to see him go through that, but he’s a fantastic person.”
Said Mitchell: “I’m glad he’s come out and said something and taken a stance. It just shows you how strong he is and how proud he is to be an Aboriginal man.”
Grant was contacted for comment on Sunday.
The Blues have performed an Indigenous war cry at training throughout the week as coach Brad Fittler ensures players learn more about the respective cultures of their teammates.
NSW Blues winger Josh Addo-Carr.Credit: Jessica Hromas
Mitchell, Addo-Carr and former Blue Jack Wighton, who retired from representative football earlier this year, were consulted about the design of the training kit.
It was created specifically for the NSW Rugby League by Indigenous artist Daren Dunn and features the artwork “Home Country”.
“I spoke to Darren and I let him pretty much do what he does, his style and his different sort of way,” Mitchell said. “It all represents something different from the mob you’re from and the place where you represent.
“It’s special for New South Wales, not only that our community get to see it on the biggest stage, but it’s also stepping stones. It’s awesome to see.”
The Blues will wear the Indigenous training jersey for a session before all three games.
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