Mitchell is being unfairly treated, believes Mike Colman. Picture: Ryan Pierse
Mitchell is being unfairly treated, believes Mike Colman. Picture: Ryan Pierse

From world’s best to NRL’s most unwanted

It's rugby league's $3 million dollar question.

Just what has Latrell Mitchell done wrong?

It's hard to believe, but just seven months ago Mitchell was the game's poster boy, widely touted as the best player in the world.

Now the only poster you'll see Latrell's face on is the NRL's most unwanted.

Latrell Mitchell was deemed by some as the world’s best player during a period last season. Picture: Darren England
Latrell Mitchell was deemed by some as the world’s best player during a period last season. Picture: Darren England

It was only back in May that he put on a masterclass in the Roosters' 42-12 win over the Wests Tigers and there almost wasn't enough room on the bandwagon, so many people were jumping on board.

As one online commentator put it, "We should all be grateful we are alive to see Latrell Mitchell play footy."

Over the top? Perhaps, but Mitchell's stats that day were out of this stratosphere: three tries, seven goals, six runs for 194m, five tackle breaks, a line break assist and two try assists.

The only thing he didn't do was kick a field goal, but he'd shown he could do that two weeks earlier when he calmly banged one over from 50m to sink the Melbourne Storm 21-20, adding to the generally accepted view that the-then 21 year-old was the future of rugby league.

As Fox Sports' Michael Ennis put it, "the kids aren't thinking of Greg Inglis or Mal Meninga. They're thinking 'I want to be Latrell Mitchell'."

 

Midway through the season Mitchell was being compared to all-time greats Greg Inglis and Mal Meninga. Picture: Peter Wallis
Midway through the season Mitchell was being compared to all-time greats Greg Inglis and Mal Meninga. Picture: Peter Wallis

That was in April. In June he was dropped from the NSW State of Origin side, now here it is November and the only club that is admitting to having any interest in him is the bottom-placed Titans.

So again I ask, what has Mitchell done wrong?

As best as I can figure it, he's asked for more money. Or at least his manager has.

That's a crime? I thought that's what rugby league was all about. In fact the game was established over a century ago because players wanted to get paid, and they've been trying to get paid more ever since.

And some of them have been very successful at it too. At getting money I mean, not at deserving it.

Look at what Latrell Mitchell has done for the Roosters. In his 97-game career he has scored 65 tries, 209 goals and the aforementioned field goal for a total of 679 points.

 

Mitchell is being unfairly treated, believes Mike Colman. Picture: Ryan Pierse
Mitchell is being unfairly treated, believes Mike Colman. Picture: Ryan Pierse

 

He has also been a key part of back-to-back premierships - all for a reported salary of $600,000 a season.

Given that there are players who haven't achieved a fraction of that who are earning around $400,000 a year more than him, wouldn't you think he is entitled to test the market?

Obviously not. If one report I read is correct the Roosters lost patience with Mitchell because he turned down their $800,000 a season offer until he had weighed up other options.

Why every other club apart from the wooden spooners has put a line through him remains a mystery.

Because they don't have room under their salary cap? Oh please. If one of the other players once considered "best in the world" like say Cameron Smith, Darren Lockyer or Mal Meninga suddenly came on the market in their prime don't you think room could be found?

 

Ben Hunt, Ash Taylor and Anthony Milford are all part of the Million Dollar club. Picture: Mark Metcalfe
Ben Hunt, Ash Taylor and Anthony Milford are all part of the Million Dollar club. Picture: Mark Metcalfe

A $3 million three-year contract doesn't necessarily mean $1 million a year. It can be "back-ended" so the player gets the majority in the third year when other high-earners have left or retired.

As for the Roosters' argument that as a centre he doesn't deserve playmaker money, does it really matter what number a matchwinner has on his back? Besides, he wants to play fullback and I don't hear anyone begrudging James Tedesco his weekly pay-packet.

Then of course there is the latest whisper coming out of Bondi Junction: he's stand-offish and doesn't mix well.

Come on, what would you rather have, a player who leads the dacks-down singalong at Mad Monday or one that kicks the winning field goal against the Storm?

News Corp Australia

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