Mitchell: I want to be a Cowboy
LATRELL Mitchell has identified the Cowboys as a future home, with North Queensland fielding an approach to sign the NSW Origin sensation following his contract spat with the Sydney Roosters.
Mitchell is seriously weighing up a move to the Cowboys from 2021 onwards as he explores contingency plans after the Roosters' bombshell decision to withdraw a two-year, $800,000-a-season extension.
Mitchell is so genuine about a possible shift to Townsville a close associate has contacted the Cowboys in the past 24 hours to outline the 22-year-old's interest in a 'Plan B' move to North Queensland.
Stream the 2019 Oceania Cup Live & On-Demand on KAYO SPORTS. Get your 14 day free trial and start streaming instantly >
If Mitchell can't salvage his contract situation at the Roosters, the Cowboys are frontline contenders to snare one of the most destructive outside backs in the code.
Mitchell wasn't originally on North Queensland's hit list but the ructions at Bondi - and revelations of the Roosters centre's interest in a fresh start in Townsville - has triggered a strategic rethink from Cowboys bosses.
While the Cowboys have yet to engage in formal talks with Mitchell, they are interested and are crunching their salary cap numbers.
The club has around $1 million to spend under the salary cap for 2020 and beyond, funds that were initially set aside for Valentine Holmes, the former Queensland Origin ace currently in America chasing an NFL contract with the New York Jets.
The Cowboys can only afford to sign Mitchell or Holmes. The latter's campaign with the Jets is due to end in January, by which time Holmes must decide whether to stay on in the States or abort his NFL dream to return to rugby league.
One trump card for the Cowboys is their football-operations chief Peter Parr, who has worked with Mitchell over the past two years in NSW Origin camp as the Blues' team manager.
Mitchell is off-contract at the end of next season but can now formally field rival offers after the NRL's annual player-contracting period on November 1 began last Friday.
A number of Sydney-based clubs launched inquiries about Mitchell on Wednesday, but it is understood the Taree-born product is keen for a change of pace and sees appeal in the more relaxed Townsville lifestyle that lured Johnathan Thurston.
Former Cowboys centre Brent Tate believes Mitchell would transform North Queensland's backline and relish the region's lifestyle.
"The Cowboys would be a great fit for Latrell if he is keen to be there," Tate said.
"Latrell has a young family and for an NRL player looking for that life balance, the Cowboys tick all the boxes.
"Latrell has copped a lot of criticism for such a young bloke and the media scrutiny in Townsville is certainly not at the level of what he would face in the fishbowl of Sydney.
"We (the Cowboys) lacked some strike in the backline last season, so there's no doubt Latrell would be a handy addition to our backs.
"When he is at his best, there is no one better - daylight comes second when Latrell is in form.
"I would love to see a player like Latrell in Cowboys colours."