Mitchell believes the rumours have been fuelled by the retirement of Greg Inglis. Mitchell has long been likened to the recently retired Souths, Queensland and Kangaroos great and while he respects the path Inglis blazed as an Indigenous icon, Mitchell doesn’t believe he has to emulate his move to Redfern to carve out a similarly stellar career.
“There has been a lot of hype around GI retiring and that’s a credit to him,” Mitchell said. “He’s had a wonderful career and I think people just think because I was the next up and comer, that I would follow in his footsteps. He set a pathway as far as he could. Now I have a pathway that I can follow myself.”
Roosters coach Trent Robinson has given the speculation swirling about his star centre’s future very little thought. His confidence that the club will be able to retain Mitchell’s services beyond next season is two-fold.
Firstly, the Roosters have time on their side. No other NRL club is permitted to speak to Mitchell or his management until November 1, given his contract does not expire until the end of next year.
The November 1 deadline means the reigning premiers will be given the first chance to put a contract offer on the table before any other club can officially try to lure him away.
Secondly, Robinson believes the platform the Roosters provide allows Mitchell to thrive and produce performances such as the breathtaking show he put on at the SCG on Saturday night.
“To be honest I don’t give it air. I don’t really concern myself about it because it’s not something that is going to come up in the near future. Therefore I don’t concern myself about it,” Robinson said.
“Who wouldn’t want Latrell? Honestly. That’s a really easy answer for any club. I also know that we create an environment here for him to thrive and that he loves being here and loves living in the area. That’s our focus. I am not going to focus on speculation.”
Mitchell doesn’t have the speculation in front of mind, either.
“All this talk is just… I am contracted until 2020 and I am just happy to be here and play out my years,” he said. “When it comes to negotiating, then we will talk.”
As for whether the performance Mitchell pulled together against the Tigers was the best he’s individual effort he has seen, Robinson suggested that may be the new norm for a player many now consider the best in the NRL.
“I won’t throw out names because that will catch fire but there are a lot of players in sport around the world that have done things for a long, long time and have performed at a high level,” Robinson said.
“People think that it’s quite special and that the consistency of that high-level performance, you create new norms. That is what he wants to do and that is what we want him to do.
“I don’t decide that he plays like that. I create a platform, with the other coaches, and he decides where he takes the game.”
Sam is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.