Bennett backflip: Bunnies in the hunt for Latrell
South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett appears to have performed another Olympic-standard backflip and now wants to pursue Sydney Roosters star Latrell Mitchell, who is poised to employ a new player-manager.
The Sunday Telegraph can reveal Mitchell has just about reached a payout figure to split with manager Wayde Rushton in favour of Matt Rose, the agent who is brother to former Manly prop George.
Well-placed sources suggest influential connections extremely close to Souths have offered to stump up the payout money, aware Rose has strong links at Redfern.
If the payout deal can be finalised today, Souths and Rose could hold talks over Mitchell as early as Monday.
It can also be revealed Bennett has spoken with Rushton about Mitchell's management situation. Rushton's release figure for Mitchell was originally around $140,000 but that figure has fallen.
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Rose also manages indigenous stars Jack Wighton and Cody Walker. Souths are aware their chances of signing Mitchell would increase if the club dealt with Rose.
Just last month, Bennett insisted he didn't want the 22-year-old Mitchell, saying: "We won't be signing Latrell - we have enough centres. I am happy with Braidon Burns and James Roberts."
Now it looks as though Bennett has softened his stance and wants to consider signing Mitchell to a one-year deal on a reduced contact.
Bennett has previously backflipped after telling the media he wasn't chasing James Roberts. In April, 2019, Bennett slammed press reports he was pursuing Roberts, saying: "It starts with you guys (the media) sitting in coffee rooms and thinking 'what am I going to make up today'. Then you ring me and say 'have you been talking to so and so?'" Bennett signed Roberts soon after.
Signing Mitchell for 2020 would allow Souths the necessary time to offload players - possibly Dane Gagai and Alex Johnston - to accommodate the Roosters champion long term.
Rabbitohs co-owner Russell Crowe hasn't publicly spoken about Mitchell but it is known the Hollywood star is a big fan of the NSW and Kangaroos centre.
It is unknown whether Crowe and Bennett have spoken about Mitchell.
Souths' recruitment of Gold Coast prop Jai Arrow from 2021 ensures a tight salary cap at Redfern. The club has money in its cap for 2020 but Arrow is likely to secure an early release and play at Redfern this season.
Mitchell is due at Roosters training on Monday but it is unlikely he will appear. Sources close to the Roosters claim Mitchell won't be at Bondi this season, even though he has a contract for 2020.
Mitchell rejected what many thought was the ideal offer - a $4m, four-year contract to play his preferred fullback position at Wests Tigers.
Speculation has been strong for weeks that Souths would look to grant early releases should Gagai and Johnston secure other clubs.
Mitchell has been encouraged by trusted friends to join Wests Tigers but it appears he isn't interested.