Dylan Napa has delivered a stern message to NRL superstar former teammate Latrell Mitchell's critics, accusing them of having short memories.
Mitchell's place in the NSW State of Origin side for game two has been questioned after his sub-par showing in the Blues' game one loss.
Six weeks ago the 21-year-old Mitchell was hailed as the best player in the game after he tore apart the Wests Tigers in the most dominant individual performance in recent seasons.
Canterbury prop Napa is set to come face-to-face with Mitchell twice in seven days when he meets his former side, the Sydney Roosters, for the first time at the SCG on Sunday before Origin II in Perth a week later.
He said Mitchell had been unfairly criticised for the Blues' loss at Suncorp Stadium and believes he should be given time to work himself back into form.
"Absolutely, I really feel for Latrell," Napa said.
"That's media-driven. He's 21-years-old and you're getting on his case about having a couple of bad games.
"A month ago you were saying he was the best player in the competition.
"When he's going good you want to be his best friend, when he's going bad you want to drop him for Origin.
"It doesn't make sense."
Since Mitchell's night out against the Tigers in round eight, he has looked below his lofty standards and has been forced to deny his recent split with agent Steve Deacon has contributed to his slump.
Likewise, it has been rumoured that the Roosters were worried that he could be lost to rivals South Sydney, though Mitchell is adamant he has not considered his future beyond his current contract.
Former NSW coach Phil Gould this week said while he doubted the Blues could save the Origin series without Mitchell, he questioned his headspace and whether he would distract the side.
"I don't think NSW can win without him but the question is will he be a distraction or will he be an asset?" Gould said.
"In his current frame of mind and doing what he's doing right at the moment, not a month ago against the Wests Tigers, he'll be a distraction."
Australian Associated Press