News of Canterbury’s interest, just days after Mitchell scored two tries against his potential future suitor, adds another layer of complexity in the Roosters’ bid to retain him on an upgraded and extended deal.
The Herald revealed in May that under his existing contract, Mitchell is earning only about $450,000 for the current season. While that figures rises by about $100,000 for the following year, it is about half of what Canterbury and other clubs are prepared to pay him.
The discrepancy is one of the reasons Mitchell split with long-time manager Steve Deacon and recently joined rival agent Wayde Rushton. It is understood Mitchell has been made aware of the Bulldogs’ interest and it may be one of several factors contributing to a dip in form. There have been other setbacks, such as the death of family members in recent weeks and the charging of his brother Lionel for assault stemming from an incident in April.
It’s unclear where the Bulldogs view the long-term positional future of Mitchell, who can play fullback, centre or in the halves. However, the blue and whites feel he is the marquee recruit they can build their club around to help them climb the ladder, as well as attracting other big-names to Belmore.
Mitchell was the hottest player in rugby league last month after producing a masterclass performance against Wests Tigers. The Taree product hasn’t been able to maintain that level, although his ommission from Brad Fittler’s team for Origin II remains a shock.
The fact the Bulldogs are in a position to even contemplate making such a long and lucrative offer shows how quickly their salary cap position has changed. The Family Club appeared hamstrung on the recruitment front for several years, but a mass exodus of big-money players – including James Graham, Josh Reynolds, Moses Mbye, Aaron Woods and David Klemmer – has left them in a position to target big names from November 1.
While the Roosters are keen to keep Mitchell, they won’t be able to compete in a bidding war for his services given the number of internationals already on their books.
The rich list: big money contracts in the NRL
- Jason Taumalolo – $10 million over 10 years
- Daly Cherry-Evans – $10 million over eight years
- Ben Hunt – $6 million over five years
- Sam Burgess – $1 million per season until 2023
- Anthony Milford – $4 million over four years