Joseph Manu had a blinder against the Kangaroos.
Joseph Manu had a blinder against the Kangaroos.

Manu will be world’s best centre: Latrell

LATRELL Mitchell has boldly predicted Joey Manu will become the game's best centre after conceding his Roosters teammate "won the battle" on Saturday night.

The close friends who rose through the Roosters' junior ranks together came head to head for the first time during Australia's loss to New Zealand on Saturday night.

Just weeks after winning a premiership alongside each other, the duo squared off on the same side of the field.

While Mitchell had success early by setting up a try for winger Valentine Holmes, it was Manu who finished on top in their respective Test debuts.

"I was proud of his performance but disappointed in myself for letting him play as well as he did," Mitchell said. "I actually believe he can be the best centre in the game. I know I get the raps, but that's not for me to say. The way he's played the last two years, I've seen him grow as a player, he's an unbelievable talent and the things he does I wish I could do.

"He's an unbelievable talent. I'm happy to be on his team. I'm happy to see him do well. He's one of my brothers, we're close, I enjoy watching him play. He's a freak and you're always on the edge of your seat.

"I think he can go to another level. He showed that. I got goosebumps playing against him.''

Despite their intense showing the pair shared a warm embrace after the match.

Manu said they spoke about their standing within the game.

"We said, 'were the two best centres in the world'," said Manu, who had about 150 friends and family watching him on. "I respect him so much, he's so tough to defend.

"How we train is how we compete, we want to be the best, he's the best centre I've played against and I know he's the best centre in the game.

"We have a lot of respect for each other. We've grown up together and the way we train comes out on the field. We don't like to be beaten. He beat me some times [on Saturday night] and I beat him sometimes.

"I don't want him to win and he doesn't want me to win. Once you get one over the other, you want to get him again next time.

"We've been sharpening up each other all year, we've done it since pre-season and it's been a hell of a ride. I'm proud to call him one of my good mates and to see him in the green and gold I was proud."

Manu scored a try with a fend which has become Mitchell's trademark this season. He also set up a remarkable try for winger Jordan Rapana as he pushed Shaun Johnson for man of the match honours.

While the Mitchell and Will Chambers clash at club and Origin level is one of best individual match-ups in the game, the Mitchell and Manu challenge shapes a potential decade long battle.

The normally chirpy Mitchell said he was unable to have a verbal stoush with his close friend.

"I was trying to give him a spray but he blocked it out," Mitchell said. "It was awesome to see him take the game on.

"He's got a strong fend. He caught me by surprise. I'm usually the one doing it, but I got whacked with it.''