Asked why Mitchell appeared so emotional on the sideline, and later in television footage shown from the dressing room, Bennett said: “No, I’m not going to tell you.
Pressed why, Bennett responded: “Well, it’s got nothing to do with you. He may well have been [visibly upset], but it’s got nothing to do with you. The change room to me has always been a sacred place, but unfortunately the game gave away a lot of our rights to those places. But in my mind it’s a place where we can go and be what we want to be and not have to answer to people.
He may well have been [visibly upset], but it’s got nothing to do with you
“The fans love to know a lot of things but we don’t tell them. They won’t be disappointed, they’ll understand my position. I’ve got no more to say on it.”
Video replays showed Egan with his fingers across Mitchell’s face, but it’s unclear whether they touched his eye. Warriors coach Stephen Kearney denied Egan was the type of character to eye gouge.
Mitchell starred alongside 100-gamer Cody Walker, who was sent to the sin bin in the first half just like Warriors opposite Kodi Nikorima.
“I need to take a close look at it,” Kearney said of the Mitchell-Egan exchange. “I did see them pushing each other at the end there. Wayde Egan is as good as they come, I couldn’t imagine that being the case. A kid from Lithgow, he’s a good lad.”
The entire South Sydney back line, bar Mitchell and Dane Gagai, who took a crucial first-half intercept which preceded Nikorima’s sin binning and an immediate Rabbitohs try, notched tries.
But the win was soured by a likely ACL tear to young Rabbitohs prop Tom Amone, who will miss the rest of the season if the injury is confirmed.
Mitchell could also face disciplinary action for a high shot on David Fusitu’a, which went unpunished minutes before half-time with the Rabbitohs leading 18-6.
The Warriors winger was all but certain to score and later failed a head injury assessment. Kearney’s side was also without Lachlan Burr due to another HIA after he collected Mitchell’s hip in the opening minutes.
“It was all there to see,” Kearney said of Mitchell’s tackle on Fusitu’a. “I didn’t think you could clip the back of the head. I don’t want to sound like I’m blaming the officiating, but that was one minor issue from a number of issues [on Friday night].
“There wasn’t a six again blown in the last half hour. We just could not get anything. Nothing.
“David is not in a good way. I thought there were a few decisions that went against us, but it’s a bit hard [to complain] on the back of a belting.”
Bennett said centre James Roberts was not an automatic inclusion next week as he works his way to full fitness after a delayed return to training. He spent time in a rehabilitation facility to improve his mental health.
“We haven’t been blowing teams off the park,” Bennett said. “I just thought defensively we were better. The Warriors were a bit unlucky as they got to the try line three times and we managed to stop them three times. It’s big on the scoreboard, it could have been 40-30.”
SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS 40 (Alex Johnston 2, Campbell Graham, Adam Reynolds, Braidon Burns, Cody Walker, Damien Cook tries; Reynolds 6 goals) defeated NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS 12 (David Fusitu’a, Agnatius Paasi tries; Kodi Nikorima 2 goals) at Bankwest Stadium. Referee: Matt Cecchin.
Adam Pengilly is a Sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.