LAS VEGAS — Latrell Mitchell believes NRL rugby league’s season-opening foray to the United States will be the catalyst for two things: a year when he becomes one of the most dominant players in his sport and when he leads South Sydney Rabbitohs to a championship.

That, however, is not even close to being all he wants to achieve.

As Australia’s NRL embarks upon one of its most historic steps by bringing the first two games of the rugby league campaign to Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium, Mitchell has history on his mind, too.

A proud member of Australia’s Indigineous community, Mitchell is determined to use his platform and growing fame Down Under to highlight key issues surrounding equality.

“For me, both sides of what I do matters,” Mitchell told me, soon after participating in an NRL fan event that saw thousands of traveling Aussies pack into the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Vegas.

“I want to represent by being the best player I can be and helping this team have great success. And I want to have it all working in harmony with the things off the field, being a role model, showing young people from my background an example of what they can do with their life.”

American fans gained some increased awareness of the plight of Australia’s native population during the Women’s World Cup soccer event last summer, when Sam Kerr further established herself as a national hero with her outstanding play and commitment to social justice.

For Mitchell, one of the highest profile players in a sport that enjoys wild popularity in Australia — so much so that more than 15,000 fans flew Stateside for Saturday’s doubleheader — the platform is just as big.

Mitchell’s Rabbitohs will take on Manly Warringah Sea Eagles in the opening game (Saturday, 9:30 p.m. ET on FS1 and the FOX Sports app) at Allegiant, home of the Las Vegas Raiders, before Brisbane Broncos and Sydney Roosters square off right afterward (11:30 p.m. ET on FS1 and the FOX Sports app).

At 26 years old and about to begin his ninth pro season, Mitchell insists that authenticity is at the heart of everything he does. He has been an outspoken supporter of the NRL’s Indigenous Round, a series of games that pays tribute to native communities. He wore an official Rabbitohs training hoodie but with a special Indigenous print design for the fan event.

He has been a fearless voice in backing social initiatives in Australia, a nation that continues to seek progress in regard to race and equality issues.

His willingness to address hot topic issues has sometimes brought criticism, but Mitchell has been outspoken in highlighting abuse he has sometimes received during matches.

“The thing I love about our sport is how inclusive it is,” NRL CEO Andrew Abdo told me via telephone. “We have got players from all cultures, and we celebrate that — and Latrell is a role model for everyone in our game. 

“He is a great player, but he is also becoming a true leader in the community. He is doing some great work off the field and showing a his passion for it. I respect that and admire it. 

“Sometimes fans do cross the line, and he has been a absolute trojan in terms of calling that stuff out. We want to make sure we keep inspiring the young generation, and Latrell is a really important part of that.”

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX and subscribe to the daily newsletter.

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