Why Latrell is intrigued by the NRL’s ‘sleeping giant’
Latrell Mitchell has had talks with the Broncos as a staggering 12 NRL clubs enter the race for the signature of the South Sydney superstar.
News Corp can reveal Mitchell has been offered to the Broncos, with Brisbane coach Kevin Walters having held preliminary discussions with the management of the most in-demand player in the NRL.
It can also be revealed Mitchell has rejected a $2.4 million, three-year extension from the Rabbitohs.
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The NSW Origin ace is seeking a shorter-term deal, prompting a revised strategic approach from the Rabbitohs, who remain confident they will retain Mitchell on a one or two-year contract.
But the contractual argy-bargy has opened the door for a slew of NRL rivals headlined by the Broncos, the very club Mitchell almost joined as a 16-year-old growing up in Taree.
Mitchell is off-contract at season's end and the Broncos are one of the NRL's most cashed-up clubs under the salary cap, possessing a $5 million war chest as 13 top-liners, such as Anthony Milford and Alex Glenn, fight for new deals for 2022.
The Rabbitohs are hopeful of announcing Mitchell's retention in the next fortnight, but that hasn't stopped the 23-year-old exploring all options, which includes dialogue with Broncos bosses just before Christmas.
"I can confirm we've had some discussions with the Broncos," said a spokesman for Mitchell's management team.
"We spoke just prior to Christmas.
"At this stage, despite reports Latrell is a done deal at Souths, we haven't finalised anything.
"Souths have tried to put a deal together that will reflect Latrell's market value, but we've made it clear we aren't looking for a long-term deal.
"Our preference is for Latrell to sign a one or two-year contract, but at the moment we haven't committed to any deal with Souths, so Latrell will continue to explore his options."
The classy strike-weapon has a history with the Broncos.
As a teenager, he explored the Broncos set-up in 2013, meeting the likes of then Brisbane stars Sam Thaiday and Justin Hodges, with a view to enrolling at Wavell High, the Brisbane school NRL legend Greg Inglis attended at 17.
Mitchell ultimately joined the Sydney Roosters due to the closer proximity to his family in Taree compared to a life in Queensland.
The Broncos have lacked a match-winning fullback for the past three seasons, but they may struggle to afford Mitchell as they look to stave off poaching raids for off-contract strike centre Kotoni Staggs.
"If we can't do a deal with Souths, there is genuine interest in the Broncos," Mitchell's representative said.
"They are one of the biggest brands in the game and Latrell almost joined them as a teenager.
"Souths are a great club but there's no doubt the Broncos are a massive brand.
"When they aren't on top of the NRL, they are a sleeping giant and it is only a matter of time before they bounce back again. The Broncos are arguably the biggest brand in Australian sport.
"We've had expressions of interest from just about every club in the game. Now we will see where things land."
Brisbane coach Walters was tight-lipped when asked about the prospect of Mitchell joining the Broncos.
"Our recruitment-and-retention committee has made a decision not to speak about any potential signings," Walters said.
"I can't comment on this one, we're playing cards closer to our chests this season."
Souths coach Wayne Bennett is hopeful Mitchell will remain loyal after his arrival at the Rabbitohs from arch-rivals the Roosters last season.
"Latrell is happy at Souths and we are really happy with him, so we're hoping he will stay," he said.
"We're still negotiating but I hope he stays, Latrell is great to have around the club."
Originally published as Why Latrell is intrigued by the NRL's 'sleeping giant'