Latrell Mitchell's options appear to be drying up.
Latrell Mitchell's options appear to be drying up.

Kent: bad advice closing doors for Latrell

THE trouble for Latrell Mitchell has not changed with this latest interest from the Gold Coast.

It is the same as it was when the Roosters went cold on him, which is who to trust in a world full of urgers.

Mitchell is a young man who needs the quiet noise.

His recent sighting in Townsville is a solid example of the trouble Mitchell is trying to navigate.

He headed to Cairns for a holiday, with a genuine need for a break, and given all that was going on it made sense that if the North Queensland Cowboys were interested in him then he would take the chance to make the drive and meet club bosses.

Photographs appeared in the next day's press. It appeared to be either a work of good journalism or a set-up.

The Cowboys later had to deny the interest in Mitchell was a ploy to push Valentine Holmes to a decision, which arrived this week.

Holmes signed a six-year deal.

"That wasn't wasting anyone's time," Cowboys coach Paul Green said at Holmes' press conference.

"We were up front with all parties about the situation with Valentine, so they knew about that."

Still, the Cowboys have not put an offer to Mitchell.

The Cowboys meeting led to nothing. Photo: Evan Morgan
The Cowboys meeting led to nothing. Photo: Evan Morgan

At the same time, concerned whispers went around that one of the first thoughts to come from Mitchell as he took a look around Townsville and the Cowboys set-up was how good the fishing might be.

He might need the quiet noise but the Cowboys need his head on playing football. That's what all the money is for.

And that's the point of conflict.

He is 22 and by the time he is 32 he will be past his prime, his greatest earning potential behind him. His future starts now.

Since before the season, since before he signed with manager Wayde Rushton after a settlement with his previous manager, those close to him have been telling him he is worth $1 million a season and, more than that, some even believe it.

The supposed bidding war has failed to spark. Photo: Matt King/Getty Images
The supposed bidding war has failed to spark. Photo: Matt King/Getty Images

There was a brief firestorm from rival managers when he chose Rushton ahead of them, but since then they have used the lack of a firm $1 million a year offer as ammunition to undermine Rushton.

But it did not turn out quite like the urgers believed it would once Mitchell went to market.

The rush of offers, at one point estimated would be as high as 11 NRL clubs, has not eventuated.

The only offer put to him so far is the Wests Tigers' three-year deal.

The Cowboys made Holmes a priority and now they have secured him they are seeing what is left for Mitchell, but it is expected to fall considerably short of a million dollars a year.

North Queensland got what they really wanted. Photo: AAP Image/Michael Chambers
North Queensland got what they really wanted. Photo: AAP Image/Michael Chambers

On Monday, Gold Coast head of performance and culture Mal Meninga confirmed his pitch for Mitchell but, again, the interest has come without a dollar value attached. They might as well be offering buttons at the moment.

The Titans' have focused their bid on the suggestion of helping Mitchell fulfil his potential.

Meninga is possibly the game's greatest mentor and gives every reason for Mitchell to trust in his advice. And if Mitchell gets fit and hungry and goes on a tear he has more than enough potential to justify his lofty asking price.

But that is the gamble they take. And at the moment Mitchell is losing.

Mal Meninga could offer a genuine path for Mitchell. Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images
Mal Meninga could offer a genuine path for Mitchell. Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

The Tigers began to suspect the silence from Mitchell was not that he is juggling various offers but that the opposite might be true.

It is expected the Titans will need to offload a player to clear room in their salary cap, but there seems an appetite to do so given their top-heaviness in the forwards.

The Cowboys have got their man in Holmes and will now see what they can negotiate with what is left in their cap for Mitchell.

South Sydney's interest is fragile, said to be dependent on how the NRL rules Sam Burgess's retirement, a decision that could come through as late as April.

Tigers chief executive Justin Pascoe called Rushton on Monday hoping to progress talks, knowing for the moment they are in front.

Has the price tag made Wests Tigers the only option? Photo: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts
Has the price tag made Wests Tigers the only option? Photo: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

While frustrated at the lack of dialogue, the Tigers have estimated correctly. Rushton has quietly avoided the Tigers in recent days for the very good reason that he has nothing to say given there is no offer to compare.

He is waiting for the Titans and the Cowboys to convert their interest from genuine enthusiasm to something financial.

Mitchell, due back to training on January 6, is keen to get the deal done no later than next week.

Meanwhile he  must find a way to distance the urgers whose advice seems to somehow also benefit them, and realise that the big contract now does not always roll into the big contract next time.

That thinking started all this in the first place.

News Corp Australia


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