Embattled NRL star Latrell Mitchell won’t be making the switch from rugby league to rugby union.
The 22-year-old Sydney Roosters centre has been the subject of much discussion across both codes in Australia as his playing future remains up in the air.
Mitchell rejected an $800,000-per-season contract extension with the Roosters, where he notified the reigning NRL champions that he would like to explore his options at the conclusion of current deal, which ends next year.
Consequently, the Wests Tigers entered the hunt for the four-test Kangaroo international’s services, but the Sydney-based club withdrew their $3.8 million, four-year offer last week after they reportedly felt as if they were being used as a back-up alternative, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Mitchell, who has also represented New South Wales four times at State of Origin level, has since been left lacking options in rugby league.
The North Queensland Cowboys have ruled themselves out from acquiring the youngster in 2020 after signing Valentine Holmes from the New York Jets in the NFL, but remain interested from 2021 onwards, although they have not yet lodged a formal offer for his transfer.
With Mitchell’s imminent free agency piquing the interest of few clubs across Australia, representatives of the two-time NRL champion contacted Rugby Australia late last week to gauge if there is any interest in making their man a Wallabies prospect.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) December 2, 2019
However, The Daily Telegraph reports that while discussions were had about taking Mitchell on board at RA, no official offer was made, and preliminary interest in the potential cross-code switch has diminished.
The newspaper said it understood that the reasoning behind RA’s opposition of the move was because incoming Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie won’t take up his new position until next July, while other off-contract players were regarded as higher priorities to be re-signed by the union.
Additionally, the organisation, along with the New South Wales Waratahs, are still dealing with Israel Folau’s $14 million legal battle over his controversial sacking in April.
“Latrell was discussed but RA has other priorities,” a source told The Daily Telegraph. “No one spoke to his management.
“RA has players that need to be re-signed and the Folau case needs to be finalised.
“They also have a new head coach who isn’t here in the country yet. They wanted to make sure Rennie was involved in those recruitment and selection decisions.
“Even if RA thought he was a good idea, the time just isn’t right.
“There is no doubt he a prodigious talent. Latrell is probably the best talent people have seen in the game for a long time.
“His natural ability is unbelievable but he’s just not right for RA at the moment.”
That means Mitchell looks likely to stay in the NRL beyond 2020, with the Gold Coast Titans emerging as the favourites for his signature as they remain the only club in the competition still actively pursuing him.
He is expected to meet with officials of the struggling Queensland club, which finished in last place this year, in the coming days.
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