Wests Tigers firm in chase for Latrell Mitchell after Canterbury officially withdraw interest
Wests Tigers have $1.7 million in available salary cap space for next season and are planning an audacious bid to make Latrell Mitchell the biggest signing in the NRL joint venture’s history.
When Wests Tigers lost former golden boy James Tedesco to the Sydney Roosters there was nothing they could do about it.
Now it’s time for the ultimate revenge.
In an ironic twist of fate, the cashed-up Tigers have emerged as the new favourites to land Latrell Mitchell.
The Tigers could find revenge on the Roosters for poaching James Tedesco. Picture: Phil Hillyard
This development comes after rivals Canterbury officially withdrew from the contract race that is fast developing into a circus.
The Bulldogs had been viewed as a significant player for the 22-year-old Test centre after Mitchell met with board member George Coorey during the finals series.
But a meeting of the club’s football retention committee on Friday afternoon determined the Dogs would now look elsewhere.
Chief executive Andrew Hill told The Saturday Telegraph: “Usually we don’t make comment around our recruitment and retention strategies.
“However, with all the speculation around this matter we thought it was the right thing to do by everyone to confirm we won’t pursue an interest in Latrell Mitchell.”
But with a stack of rival clubs still circling, the Tigers have jumped to the top of the queue.
The fact is they have $1.7 million in available salary cap space for next season and are planning an audacious bid to make Mitchell the biggest signing in the joint venture’s history.
While the two parties are yet to meet directly, that is expected to change in the coming days when coach Michael Maguire completes his commitments with the New Zealand Test team.
Although Mitchell still has a year to run on his current Roosters contract, the reigning premiers would not stand in his way after pulling an $800,000-a-season offer this week.
There is no doubt some other rival clubs are also baulking at Mitchell’s $1 million-a-season asking price, especially given concerns about Mitchell’s current mindset.
There are sections at the Roosters who have been extremely disappointed with Mitchell’s attitude for some time now.
Alarm bells certainly went to the next level when the Roosters found out about Mitchell’s meeting with Coorey.
There were also eyebrows raised when Mitchell arrived late in the season driving a mystery Mercedes sports car, valued in the vicinity of $250,000.
Powerful Roosters chairman Nick Politis, who amassed a substantial part of his $1 billion fortune in the motor vehicle industry, was said to be curious given he had no knowledge of where the flash car came from.
But rather than focus on the negatives, the Tigers see this as a generational opportunity for their club.
The fact is the Tigers are sick of making up the numbers year after year and want to put a team on the paddock next year that can seriously challenge for the title.
Mitchell tore the Tigers apart in the two games he played against them this year, while his goal kicking would also be a massive bonus.
The Tigers dropped several games this year directly because of their poor conversion rate, which would have had them pushing for a top four finish.
The Tigers also view Mitchell as the type of player who could help attract other world class players, while boosting membership and sponsorship revenue.
The Tigers are also said to be chasing another gun outside back and a top edge backrower for next year, and even if they miss out on Mitchell they plan to hit the market hard over summer.
While some people are privately questioning if Maguire’s hard core training regime could be too tough for the at times temperamental Mitchell, the Tigers see this as another positive given Maguire’s history with Greg Inglis.
A big part of the Tigers’ sell no doubt will be based around the fact Maguire knows what it takes to make Mitchell a world class No 1, but it won’t come without hard work.
There is even talk that Mitchell may have been a bit jealous playing second-fiddle to Tedesco in recent times, and that is why he wants to play fullback.
This potential move would not only allow him the chance to become the main man but also help lead a club with the longest NRL finals drought back into the big time arena.
North Queensland is the other club still right in the hunt but going against the Cowboys is that Mitchell wants to play fullback.
Given the Cowboys are also favourites to secure Valentine Holmes when he returns home from the NFL, that could be the deal breaker.
Another bonus for the Tigers is that Adam Hartigan is head of football, having a previously strong relationship with Mitchell during their days together at the Roosters