The Roosters and Latrell Mitchell won't enter contract negotiations until at least the end of the Origin series as Queensland champion Cooper Cronk refuted Phil Gould's calls to drop the out-of-sorts centre to avoid distractions in NSW camp.
Mitchell has returned to Roosters HQ after watching the Tricolours' last-start loss to Penrith in his hometown of Taree – with the club's permission – following a quiet Origin I outing for the Blues at Suncorp Stadium.
He has been named in his usual No.3 jersey for Sunday's clash against Canterbury as the premiers endure a rare three-game losing streak.
Mitchell has rarely had a moment out of the headlines for the past month and copped a bake from Gould on Monday night.
The Blues coaching great declared on Channel Nine "in his current frame of mind and doing what he’s doing right at the moment … he’ll be a distraction [during Origin].
"He and the Roosters need to come to the Origin coach and say: ‘We’ve sorted this. This is what needs to be done. He’ll be ready.’ Once he does that, then you pick him and you get on with life."
Among the drama surrounding Mitchell has been speculation over his future, with links to Souths repeatedly denied by both clubs and the star centre.
NRL.com understands that the Roosters still plan to upgrade and extend Mitchell's contract beyond his current deal, which expires in 2020.
But despite reports of an $800,000 upgrade being tabled in recent weeks, it's understood neither the Roosters or Mitchell's new manager Wayde Rushton plan to break bread until at least after Origin III in mid-July.
With 18 months left on Mitchell's current contract rival clubs cannot table official offers until November 1.
Cronk's retirement at the end of 2019 leaves the Roosters with enough salary cap room to ward off NRL outfits circling Mitchell, who turns 22 on Saturday.
Mitchell has vowed to bounce back to his best at club and representative level, with Cronk backing coach Trent Robinson to have the precocious NSW and Australian star firing again soon enough.
"Trust me if I was an opposition player I wouldn’t want Latrell Mitchell playing in the Roosters football team or the NSW team," Cronk said.
"Cool the jets, just relax. He knows what he is doing. There is one man who is the coach of this football side who knows how to get that guy playing his best footy and generally happy.
"I don’t understand where it’s all coming from. Three weeks ago [against the Tigers] he played the best game any young kid has played in rugby league history now he isn’t happy or playing well?"
"[Gould] is able to call it as he sees it. But I don’t think Phil Gould is in the phone contacts of Latrell Mitchell in terms of catching up and he would regularly know Latrell’s position on anything.
"A lot people can get caught up in it being an accurate assessment of Latrell. But I would say it's not quite accurate."
Mitchell and Angus Crichton return to Robinson's line up after sitting out the Panthers defeat, while fellow Blues Boyd Cordner and James Tedesco have also been named for Sunday's game against the Bulldogs.
Robinson's decision to rest Cronk against Newcastle two weeks ago came under fire following a heavy loss and concussion suffered by Luke Keary, but the veteran playmaker backed the Roosters' mid-season rotation policy.
"If Trent Robinson offers me something and tells me he has researched it and thought about it and has got all the science behind it, well I’m going to listen to him," Cronk said.
"The scoreboard says he gets it right most of the time. It is an Origin period where we have got a lot of guys playing for NSW so I might have to have a bigger workload. If we had of played well against Newcastle it wouldn’t be an issue."