The public and especially the media need to back off Latrell Mitchell, according to Souths skipper Adam Reynolds, who said the pressure was akin to the intense spotlight on NBA star Michael Jordan in his glory days.
And Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett has also criticised certain sections of the media on Triple M in Brisbane on Wednesday night for what he called "very apalling" coverage.
"If anything I think we ought to sort of give it a rest," Reynolds said.
"The media keep bashing him up and I don't know if you've watched the documentary [The Last Dance] about the Chicago Bulls and what they did to Jordan.
"They almost lost him to the game … and I'd hate to see us lose Latrell to all this media pressure.
"From what I heard there were reporters at his front door the other day. Latrell has a newborn baby and he's got a wife with another young child there.
"He's constantly hounded and he's a human being at the end of the day."
Mitchell's switch from the Roosters to arch rivals South Sydney this year was widely reported because of his standing in the game – a leading Indigenous player, an Origin and Test star, and the NRL's leading scorer in 2019, as well as a two-time premiership winner.
More recently he received a backlash from all quarters about breaking social COVID-19 rules and allowing a group of friends to come to his property near Taree for a camping weekend, which included Storm winger Josh Addo-Carr.
The NRL handed them both partially suspended $10,000 fines.
"There's nothing more disturbing with the media, I've dealt with them for so long, when they come to your house with cameras and everybody hanging out of cars. There is nothing more that hurts you, nothing more that puts you off," Bennett said in reference to media following him to his house after his COVID-19 test on Monday night.
"I've reacted every time it's happened to me very badly. It takes away your privacy."
Reynolds said he wasn't insinuating that the 22-year-old was on the verge of quitting rugby league.
"I'm not worried about him leaving the game. He's got a great family; great support around him," Reynolds said.
"But he's a human being so if you keep knocking him, or keep chasing him everywhere he goes, it can have an effect on anyone. It had an effect on Michael Jordan and he's at the top of any sport.
"Latrell is a young kid and yes he's made some mistakes but coming in here he's all bubbly and that.
"But he's constantly scrutinised by the media, and I think, unfairly.
"He's on the front page of the paper five or so days of the week. If it was another player in his situation they wouldn't be on the front page of the paper simply because their name is not Latrell Mitchell.
"We know he's high-profile player but he's got to have his space as well. I don't think it's fair journos turn up to his front door and harass him at his family home. There's no privacy in that and I think that's crossing the boundary there."
Last time they met: Rabbitohs v Knights - Round 13, 2019
Bennett said "that's not going to happen on my watch" when asked if he feared Mitchell could walk away from the sport.
"He's a wonderful young man," he said.
"It's one of the most biased things that I've probably seen in my coaching career actually. I've seen guys go through tough times with the media and a few things can happen. This guy, in terms of behaviour, he's impeccable with regards to alcohol, drugs, all the other things young guys can get into."
He added Mitchell would remain at fullback despite reports claiming he would be switched back to centre when the NRL resumes.
Meantime, Reynolds has had his own name in the media cycle over the past 48 hours since turning up to resumed South Sydney training with a runny nose.
He had the COVID-19 test after being told to isolate at home, with a negative result coming late Monday night.
"I've got four young kids and a wife at home so who knows if they've been in contact with people that could bring outside viruses in and what-not. But [my test] was clear."
Three of his children are at school but he said his wife "is fantastic" as she goes out and does all the shopping and picks up the kids from school.
He said he's actually enjoyed the extra time with his children. "There's a lot of wrestling going on… it's a mad house at time," he said.
"But I don't get to spend too much time with my kids throughout the season, with training loads and being away with footy. So the last six weeks has been unreal. I've gotten to spend more time with them than I ever have."