Robbo still ‘strong’ with Latrell
SYDNEY Roosters coach Trent Robinson had come to terms with Latrell Mitchell leaving the club long before he was unveiled by arch rivals South Sydney on Monday.
Robinson defended his relationship with his now former player and he will give his fans a first look at life after Mitchell and halfback Cooper Cronk by selecting his best 17 for next month's world club challenge.
Mitchell officially became a Rabbitoh this week but Robinson said he would be well remembered for his time spent at the club.
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"Monday had no effect on me personally," Robinson said. "We knew where we were at and we knew our time had come to an end. I will support Latrell for the rest of his career. What he delivered for us during his time here, not only a couple of premierships but also an under-18s premiership. All that stuff is not lost.
"We saw each other pre-Christmas a couple of times. It's hard to explain. People want to be black and white about these things. It's disappointing for all of us the way it finished. We would've liked it to be a lot cleaner. Our relationship is strong. When you go through those years we have, they aren't lost."
While the Roosters have landed some big signings from South Sydney in recent years including Luke Keary and Angus Crichton, the signing of Mitchell could trump them all.
Robinson said he had no qualms with Mitchell joining the Rabbitohs.
"There are 15 rival clubs," Robinson said. "The interest is there, if you hang on to that you will miss the other competition that's in rugby league. For me it held no difference to any other team. I know there is a close rivalry and I love the fact when those games come up.
"His time was up here. He was going to go somewhere, we didn't have a choice over that so you just have to let him go."
The Roosters will get an early test to see how much they will miss Cronk and Mitchell when they play St Helens in the World Club Challenge next month.
The Roosters will base themselves in Barcelona - where they will watch famous soccer club play - while also travelling to Perpignan to have an opposed session with the Catalans Dragons.
They will have a further session against Robinson's former club in the lead-up to defending their world title. The Roosters will announce their team on Wednesday which could include Billy Smith and Kyle Flanagan who Robinson said are "right in the thick" of playing centre and halfback respectively.
"It's not a trial," Robinson said. "We take it seriously. We feel very proud about representing the league over there. It'll be the best team possible on that day. That would bode well for the season - you have to perform on the big stage. It's a good test for the season ahead."