RLPA concerned for Latrell's wellbeing as spotlight intensifies

The Rugby League Players' Association has expressed concern for Latrell Mitchell's wellbeing amid a flurry of intense speculation on his future.

The RLPA has been in contact with Mitchell throughout the recent saga about his playing future and given the November 1 anti-tampering deadline had passed, CEO Ian Prendergast said the Roosters star should not be criticised for exercising his right to test his value on the open market.

Mitchell has dominated headlines for much of 2019 through his public stance against racism and his axing from the NSW Origin side, but the spotlight has become fiercer still since the Roosters spectacularly pulled his two-year contract extension off the table on Tuesday.

The premiers will consider granting an immediate release on the right financial terms, with several clubs including Wests Tigers and Canterbury weighing up whether to make a play for the 22-year-old international.

Mitchell has hit out at both reporting around his future and public comments on Instagram questioning his worth and character.

"We are concerned about the nature of reporting surrounding Latrell Mitchell in recent days," Prendergast told NRL.com.

"I think it’s important that we keep everything in perspective and understand that players are not immune to this intense and often targeted commentary.

"In general, players being criticised based on their perceived – and often incorrectly reported – salaries or contract offers is unnecessary, particularly when you consider they are operating within the rules of their agreements.

"Players can be subject to issues that the public aren’t always privy to – such as being tapped on the shoulder by their clubs or unfairly pressured out of their contract.

"However we are seeing more often now that players are the ones being criticised for acting in accordance with their right to test the open market in the final year of their deal.

"We are committed to reviewing the contracting system in totality with the NRL in coming years so that we improve the level of professionalism in areas that impact player movement.

"However, in the meantime we encourage everyone to respect the current rules that are in place.

"We have been in contact with Latrell in recent days and will continue to offer him our support."

Mitchell has spoken previously about the toll the 2019 campaign has taken on him, in particular a split from his long-time agent Steve Deacon to link with current manager Wayde Rushton.

NRL.com understands senior Roosters powerbrokers have grown frustrated with the public nature of negotiations around his next contract, in particular his meeting at the home of a Bulldogs official recently, prompting his $800,000 offer to be pulled.

Players can be subject to issues that the public aren’t always privy to.

Ian Prendergast

Throughout seemingly endless headlines Mitchell was the NRL's leading pointscorer en route to back-to-back titles with the Roosters.

His potential immediate release has spun the game's now annual signing season on its head, with the futures of several stars a daily talking point now clubs can table official offers to any player coming off contract in 2020.

The NRL has been exploring the potential introduction of trade windows as a means of easing the current cut throat scenarios, in which contracts are increasingly ended early, often to the frustration of fans.

"I think there's great merit in a trade window," NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said last week.

"I've said that openly a number of times and it's got strong support from the clubs as well. But ultimately that's a negotiation and a discussion we have to have with the players and the player group.

"It's fair to say that we don't have support from the RLPA on it at the moment.

"I haven't given up on that though, I'm going to continue my discussions with them because I think it's in the best interests of the game, particularly the fans to try to tidy it up a bit."