Why the Tigers turned their back on Latrell
THE Wests Tigers made the bombshell decision to withdraw a $3.8 million offer to Latrell Mitchell after the unwanted Rooster rejected an invitation to meet Michael Maguire.
In a move that put Mitchell one step closer to playing reserve grade with Roosters feeder club the North Sydney Bears, the Tigerson Thursday pulled their multimillion-dollar deal after Mitchell refused to travel from Taree to Concord for a face-to-face with Maguire and the Tigers coaching staff.
The Tigers were hopeful of signing Mitchell at the meeting - scheduled for Thursday morning - but instead ripped up the deal to join the growing list of clubs that have rejected the would-be Roosters runaway.
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The Tigers will not enter into any new negotiations with Mitchell following the snub.
Speaking about recruitment targets for the first time, Maguire confirmed the Tigers would hit the open market with an estimated $1.5 million to spend.
"We are definitely in a position where we can bring players over,'' Maguire said.
"I have a current playing group that is working extremely hard to make sure the Wests Tigers are playing finals football next year.
"I am now looking for outside players that want to help us reach our goal of winning grand finals. We need those players to be committed to our organisation and to show us how much they want to be part of what we are working so hard to achieve.
"We want potential players to tell us how they are going to help Wests Tigers move forward.''
Locked in negotiations with Mitchell for two weeks, Tigers officials suspected the former NSW Origin lacked "commitment'' to the club.
Following an impressive first meeting with Wests officials, Mitchell is understood to have failed to respond to a series of subsequent requests.
With a side he declared capable of reaching the finals, Maguire said he would not be rushed into making a pre-season signing.
"I have a playing group that is completely committed to this club and we want players that are going to respect what the players have built and contribute to it,'' Maguire said.
"I have seen some great things from this group of players and this organisation and we have taken some massive steps toward getting to where we want to bn. I could see that in the way we played last year, especially toward the back end of the year.
"We have a strong, gritty team that have shown they are prepared to work hard for each other. We want to find people that will compliment us and take us to the next level.''
The Tigers are understood to have already drawn up a new hit list of potential targets for 2020.
Storm flyer Josh Addo-Carr is not on that list.
"My players also want anyone that comes to this club to be committed to what they are doing,'' Maguire said.
"Over the last two or three weeks we have seen that type of commitment with players here resigning on long term deals because they see where we are going both on and off the field. We have a lot of momentum and we nowhere we are heading.
"Now it is about me and my staff looking for people that will compliment that. We are looking for top-end players to compliment us and also good young kids.
"I am looking at anyone that is willing to do the work to take the club where we want to get to. We are a very tight group and I want any player that comes here to make a commitment to them.''