Latrell Mitchell looks set to be embroiled in a fresh contract saga as South Sydney prepare to make a call on his future before he gets another chance to prove his worth.
The soap opera that was Mitchell’s departure from the Roosters was the biggest story of the off-season, ending only when he signed a one-year, $600,000 deal with the Rabbitohs in January. The contract contains an option in the club’s favour for the 2021 season, which the Herald has been told is worth $800,000 and must be activated by April 30.
However, Souths are baulking at triggering the extension as a number of factors conspire against Mitchell remaining at Redfern on top dollar. The premiership-winning centre displayed indifferent form in his only two appearances for the ‘Pride of the League’, which cast doubt on his shift to fullback. He played for just 55 minutes in the opening-round win against Cronulla before being benched, and he got less than an hour at fullback in the loss to Brisbane before being shifted into the centres to give Alex Johnston another crack at the custodian role.
Coach Wayne Bennett hoped Mitchell’s form would improve as he gained match fitness, but the coronavirus outbreak has robbed him of a chance to prove he is worth ‘fullback money’. The 24-year-old’s extension must be triggered a month before the NRL’s mooted restart date of May 28 and it’s unlikely that will occur. In letting it lapse, the Rabbitohs can renegotiate an extension at a lower price, a favourable outcome given the salary cap could drop next year due to the COVID-19 crisis.