Latrell twist hands Rabbitohs advantage
It is the stunning twist that could potentially gift wrap Latrell Mitchell to South Sydney for a Christmas bargain.
As the fight for Gold Coast forward Jai Arrow intensified on the back of Cody Walker agreeing to a two-year extension at the Rabbitohs, Mal Meninga revealed that the Titans have now gone cold on trying to land the Sydney Roosters's out-of-favour star centre.
With Wests Tigers also all but ruling out making a play for Mitchell, what this means is that the 22-year-old's only remaining hope of getting away from Bondi next season could be if he can work out a cut-price deal to join the Roosters' arch rivals before the New Year.
It remains to be seen how the NRL would view that given Mitchell has already turned down an $800,000 upgrade at the Roosters and the Tigers' $1 million-a-season approach.
While it is believed the Tigers would still be willing to talk if Mitchell indicated he was keen, as it stands parties said to be acting on Mitchell's behalf appear zoned in on Redfern as the preferred and perhaps only destination.
Many think the Roosters wouldn't want Mitchell playing with their sworn enemies next year but it has now got to the point where all parties just want the matter settled.
Otherwise Mitchell will be forced to return to Roosters training on January 6 and it could get even more embarrassing for everyone involved.
Souths maintain they are not actively pursuing Mitchell but it definitely sounds like his advisers are pursuing Souths with great gusto.
There was even talk Mitchell had personally contacted Bennett but that has been disputed.
While the Rabbitohs were anticipating Arrow could have given them a double pre-Christmas bonus by agreeing to a deal on Wednesday, the tough Queensland Origin forward instead went away with his Gold Coast teammates on a camp to Coffs Harbour.
Although Arrow's future is well and truly still up in the air, Meninga was adamant the 24-year-old had indicated "he wants to stay and we want to keep him".
Meninga also indicated no talks had eventuated with Mitchell or his management since the Titans expressed some interest in setting up a meeting several weeks ago.
While South Sydney have been steadfast all along they don't have the money available in their cap to fit Walker, Arrow and Mitchell all in for 2020, that could change if Arrow remained on the Gold Coast next season.
Although it would make little sense using up the majority of Sam Burgess's former salary to pay Mitchell in place of a big name middle forward, now the Rabbitohs could potentially land Mitchell and Arrow for the $1.2 million they previously paid Burgess.
Mitchell was said to be on $700,000 next year at the Roosters, and they have already paid his November and December wages and will still have to pick up the tab for January.
That would take the best part of $200,000 off Mitchell's salary before he even agrees to a new deal.
No wonder he doesn't appear to be in a rush to get any deal done.
Meninga was also not backing down in regards to Arrow, saying the Titans were even prepared to increase their current offer to try and match the Rabbitohs' lucrative offer.
"There is a great will to get it done," Meninga said.
"We are going to keep working on it but hopefully it can be finalised before Christmas."
Asked if he was still confident Arrow would extend his future at the club, Meninga said: "Yeah, I am."
Meanwhile, Walker's deal will keep him at the Rabbitohs for at least three more seasons.
"I'm really happy to have this contract signed. South Sydney is my home and I didn't want to play for anyone else," Walker said.
Rabbitohs general manager of football, Shane Richardson added: "Cody's game went to a new level in 2019, as did his leadership.
"He is one of the most potent attacking players in the competition and he showed he has the resolve to be one of the best defensive halves in the NRL as well.