Wests Tigers chairman Lee Hagipantelis believes Latrell Mitchell has the opportunity to be part of an exciting new era at the club and confirmed his Sydney Roosters counterpart Nick Politis was supportive of the out-of-favour star moving to Concord.
With Politis and Roosters coach Trent Robinson, according to a NewsCorp report, telling Mitchell on Tuesday that there was no longer the salary cap space to extend his contract after he expressed as desire in an NRL.com interview to remain with the back-to-back premiers, the 22-year-old needs to find a new club.
The Tigers had been the early favourites but withdrew their offer, understood to be valued at almost $1 million per season, after he did not act on it quickly and continued to gauge interest from other clubs.
However, the Tigers made it clear they were prepared to re-open negotiations and Hagipantelis said on Wednesday they were still interested if Mitchell showed a desire to join the club.
"We are actively in the market considering a number of options that are available to us and if Latrell is to be one of those options he is more than welcome to reach out to us," Hagipantelis said.
"At the moment I don’t think we are under any particular pressure, we have got a really talented and healthy roster but it is an active player market at the moment and we want to make sure we are a competitor in that market."
Latrell Mitchell interview
Despite the Tigers announcing that they had withdrawn their offer two weeks ago, Hagipantelis said he had remained in contact with Politis about Mitchell’s future at the Roosters, where he remains contracted for next season.
The Roosters have indicated they would release Mitchell for the 2020 Telstra Premiership and Hagipantelis believes Politis would support him joining the Tigers.
"I have spoken to Nick Politis and I don’t have any doubt about that, I am sure the Nick would be supportive of that," Hagipantelis said.
"Nick has been incredibly transparent throughout this process. He has called me chairman to chairman as a professional courtesy, which I am very appreciative of, and kept us informed.
"Nick has not involved himself in any sort of discussions or negotiations or anything of that kind. It was simply as a professional courtesy to inform me of what the Roosters' position was."
It is unclear whether the Roosters would contribute to Mitchell’s contract next season if he were to join the Tigers but the club is already liable for the first two months of his 2020 payments.
Hagipantelis said there had not been any further contact with Mitchell since negotiations ceased in late November but he expected him to make a decision on his future soon.
After winning two premierships with the Roosters, a State of Origin series with NSW and representing Australia, Mitchell has achieved almost everything in the game at a young age but he now has the opportunity to join a select group of players who have enjoyed success at two clubs.
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He would be arguably the biggest signing in the 20-year history of Wests Tigers and is expected to have the opportunity to move from centre to his preferred position of fullback.
"I think the Tigers are in the midst of an exciting transformation," Hagipantelis said.
"Mediocrity is no longer part of our vocabulary, we are demanding success of ourselves in every respect and every level on and off the playing field so I think it is an incredible opportunity for any talented player to join what is already a very talented roster and advance not only themselves but the team and the club as well.
"I’m assuming something is going to have to happen with Latrell because if I read the reports correctly he will not be playing at the Roosters so he has to consider what his options are and what is best for him and his family.
"He’ll take his time and he will make the best decision for himself and his family."