The Sydney Roosters are willing to let Latrell Mitchell walk out of the final year of his contract – but not to despised rival South Sydney, a new report says.
Mitchell had an $800,000 per-year contract offer withdrawn by the Roosters, who felt disrespected by his insistence on testing the market. The Test star would have been the highest-paid centre in the game by taking the Roosters' offer.
It has been widely reported that Mitchell is unlikely to play for the Roosters again, despite winning consecutive premierships with the club. Frustrated coach Trent Robinson personally withdrew Mitchell's extension offer, with the support of chairman Nick Politis.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Roosters are prepared to let Mitchell leave early – but the Rabbitohs is a forbidden destination.
The Herald said that the Roosters had spoken with Wests Tigers officials about a possible move for Mitchell. The Tigers recently lost Ben Matulino and Ryan Matterson from their salary cap, meaning they are cashed-up and prepared to pay Mitchell far more than the Roosters; though his deal would be back-ended to allow further cap clearing.
Mitchell would likely play fullback at the Tigers to justify a pay packet that could swell to an average of $1 million per season. No.1 is Mitchell's preferred position, though he has risen to the top of the game as a centre and would need to improve his fitness to play fullback.
Some at the Tigers are wary of signing Mitchell, the Herald reports, due to the "circus" surrounding him. Gold Coast's AJ Brimson has been flagged as another option.
Mitchell scored a hat-trick of tries against the Tigers in a stunning 26-point haul at the SCG this year; a performance that saw him branded perhaps the NRL's best player. He is a sensational talent, though he would be an interesting fit with hardline coach Michael Maguire.
South Sydney have publicly ruled themselves out of chasing Mitchell, yet are still being touted as a possibility due to the star's volatile management situation.
Mitchell was signed with agent Wayde Rushton, but has also been linked with Matt Rose and Mario Tartak. Should he opt for Rose as his manager going forward, the Rabbitohs are reportedly a chance to sign Mitchell because Rose's top client, five-eighth Cody Walker, is a star at South Sydney.
The logic seems thin behind a touted union of Mitchell and Walker, at least on the field. Mitchell and Walker formed a left-edge partnership for NSW in the opening State of Origin match this year and both played poorly enough to be dropped for game two.
Newcastle have shown interest in Mitchell and are the closest club to his home town of Taree. North Queensland have also been touted as a possibility, but would need to end their interest in Valentine Holmes. The Bulldogs and Panthers have ruled themselves out.