Latrell headed to Souths with an Arrow
LATRELL Mitchell will reportedly meet with Souths coach Wayne Bennett in the next few days to work out how to facilitate a move to the Rabbitohs.
Mitchell was granted leave by the Sydney Roosters to stay away from pre-season training on Sunday night, and it's widely believed he's played his last game for the Bondi glamour club.
Mitchell reportedly wants to play under Bennett, a seven-time premiership-winning coach renowned as a mentor who players love to play for.
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The report said the Rabbitohs' focus was securing an early release for Gold Coast forward Jai Arrow to join the club next season, which could be finalised within 24 hours.
News of Mitchell's signing being a step closer comes despite Bennett saying last month that he wasn't interested in bringing Mitchell to the club.
"We won't be signing Latrell," Bennett.
"We have enough centres. I am happy with Braidon Burns and James Roberts.
"I needed a forward to replace Sam."
Bennett has previously denied an interest in a player only to sign him weeks later, as was the case when securing James Roberts from the Brisbane Broncos.
Rabbitohs boss Shane Richardson has also gone on the record as saying that trying to secure an early release for Gold Coast forward Jai Arrow, who they've signed from 2021, was his main immediate recruitment priority ahead of stitching up a potential deal for Mitchell.
"Everyone is shouting from the rooftops and I don't quite understand why," Richardson said of the Mitchell speculation. "At the end of the day, he is not my priority at the moment."
"We will worry about him once our priority is sorted out, and that's Jai Arrow.
"Jai Arrow was exactly what we wanted recruitment wise," he added ."I'm not worried about (Mitchell) at the moment . . . once we know what is going on with (Arrow) then we will make a decision based on what money we've got left over and what we can and can't do."
But in a stunning development, reports have emerged that "Arrow's release from the Titans will be finalised in the next 24 hours."
That's despite incoming Titans coach Justin Holbrook declaring earlier Tuesday that the dynamic Queensland Origin forward will see out his contract on the glitter strip.
If Arrow's release is granted, that means the Rabbitohs could turn their attention to Mitchell, who might be happy to sign a cut-price, one-year deal worth $400,000 at Redfern - having rejected a $1 million contract at Wests Tigers and an $800,000 offer at the Roosters.
Mitchell is believed to have his heart set on cutting a deal at Souths due to his close friendships with Bunnies players Cody Walker, James Roberts and Braidon Burns,.plus the club's strong indigenous community is another appealing factor.
Another selling point is that he would likely play fullback at the Rabbitohs, with neither Alex Johnston or Adam Doueihi impressing as a long-term option at the back.
It's been reported that Souths have been shopping Johnston and centre Dane Gagai around to other clubs, but neither player is keen to move on ahead of the 2020 season.
Mitchell is on the verge of sorting out his messy agent situation. He is set to be granted a release from his current agent Wayde Rushton which will see him join rival manager Matt Rose, the brother of former Manly premiership-winner George.
Rose acts on behalf of Rabbitohs star Cody Walker, who has a close relationship with Mitchell.
One roadblock to the Bunnies securing Mitchell on a cut-price deal is that it would have to be cleared by the game's salary cap auditor, who will determine his true market value.
It's understood NRL auditor Richard Gardham has final discretion to determine market value using a list of comparative players to reach his decision.
NRL's salary cap laws state a player cannot be registered on a contract worth considerably less than his market value.