Rampaging Latrell forces Rabbitohs’ hand
SOUTH Sydney are looking to avoid a repeat of Latrell Mitchell's contract circus over summer by locking in the second year of his contract before the NRL season kicks off.
The Rabbitohs have an option in their favour with Mitchell for next season which doesn't have to be activated until April, but they don't want contract discussions to distract their star recruit and have started talks with his new management.
In less than two weeks, Mitchell will run out for the Indigenous All Stars in his new position of fullback and the word coming out of Redfern is that he is looking every bit as menacing as the wrecking machine who once wore the No.1 jumper, Greg Inglis.
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Despite concerns about Mitchell's fitness and endurance levels after he missed a large chunk of the pre-season, Souths insiders say he is looking every bit a natural fullback at training. And with his size and athleticism, he is going to cause plenty nightmares in the coming months.
Mitchell's agent Matt Rose said the former Rooster was loving his new life at Souths and extremely motivated by the challenge ahead.
"He has really knuckled down and he is really looking forward to this," Rose said.
"Latrell is like that. Once he gets things sorted, he gets in and gets going. And this is really exciting for him."
Mitchell's late start to pre-season training means it will take some time for his fitness levels to reach where they need to be to master the extra workload at fullback.
Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett is planning to manage the situation by not playing Mitchell at fullback for the full 80 minutes during the early rounds of the competition.
However, Rose said Mitchell was more than ready for the next chapter of his career considering he has already won two premierships and represented NSW and Australia at the age of 22.
"The thing is, he knows he has a big opportunity here," Rose said. "It requires a very different mindset to his last couple of years (playing in the centres).
"He will be running a lot more and his game will definitely change. But I only think it can be good for him. We know that he has the ability to do it and he just has to get in and get it done.
"If you have a think about it, it is the hardest position on the field. You are needed in defence and attack and in both of those there is a lot of pressure.
"I know the challenge for him is big, but I know it is something he is excited about. He wants to make it."