The Roosters are preparing to match big-spending rivals to make Latrell Mitchell are marquee man in red, white and blue, regardless of where he eventually lands in Trent Robinson's line-up.
Intense focus on Mitchell's future has bemused the premiers in the lead-up to Sunday's Magic Round clash against Canberra, with the NSW and Test star linked to arch-rivals South Sydney despite being contracted until the end of 2020.
NRL.com understands that Mitchell is set to earn around $550,000 next year, with rival clubs able to make official offers as of November 1.
Since Mitchell's current deal was negotiated he has become a premiership-winner, Origin and Kangaroos selection certainty and the best centre in the game.
A sizeable upgrade for the 21-year-old is inevitable, with rival clubs willing to pay the best part of $1 million a year for the NRL's hottest talent.
Privately the Roosters have no intention of letting Mitchell come off-contract.
But an impending split between Mitchell and his management, and the club's firm desire not to pressure Cooper Cronk into a call on whether he plays on in 2020, keeps extension talks on hold for now.
Mitchell won't be playing fullback while James Tedesco is at the Tricolours, while a five-eighth switch may be on the cards if Cronk retires at season's end.
Mitchell lights up the SCG
Robinson ominously declared Mitchell's 26-point haul last week against Wests Tigers as "not extraordinary for him", contending that a strike centre such as Mitchell can still change a contest like few other positions in the modern game.
"Over the years fullbacks have probably changed more than anything over the course of the last 30 years, where fullbacks were to bring the ball back... centres were often seen as the 'free' type players," Robinson said.
"You had Mal Meninga, Andrew Ettingshausen, Steve Rogers, those centres have always had a bit more space, a bit more creativity and all of that.
"I don't think that's any different to now. Obviously the game's evolved but the centre's still a place where people can get more space than other areas on the field.
"They've still got options on the outside. And they get to play with opposition. It's a real duel between the centres in the game."
For his part, Mitchell said he is happy to play wherever Robinson names him.
Roosters v Raiders - Round 9
He also sees improvement in his own game, wanting to add "hard carries" out of trouble to the carnage he creates at the opposite end of the field.
"I know I can score the tries and all that but there are things off the ball I want to do, I want to help out my team with the hard stuff, the hard carries," Mitchell said.
"As soon as I add that to my game it will go a long way to being an 80-minute performance.
Mitchell's also happiest when he's on the paddock, ignoring the swirling chatter that has had him linked to both Parramatta and Redfern.
"I see these things in the media and I don't know where it is coming from but I come to captain's run before the game and I just switch it off, I don't need to worry about that stuff," Mitchell said.
"I just switch off and just go out and enjoy it, give something people can watch."
"There is a lot of hype going around about other clubs like Souths and Eels but honestly I haven't even thought about that.
"For me to get (attention) now when I'm not even off-contract is something I don't need to worry about.
"Negotiating time is November and I think that's when it should be left to."
The evolution of Latrell Mitchell