Latrell Mitchell has been helping the firefighting cause in Taree.
Latrell Mitchell has been helping the firefighting cause in Taree.

NRL star fights NSW bushfires as Tigers close in

Wests Tigers are closing in on signing Latrell Mitchell as the Sydney Roosters and Kangaroos star sets aside speculation around his NRL future to join the firefighting effort on the mid-north coast.

Mitchell has been back at his hometown of Taree since the Roosters withdrew their $800,000-a-season offer to the young centre a week ago.

On Wednesday he went out with family and friends to help protect a local farm threatened by fire.

"It's terrible, the fire is just there, ay. I'm doing my part, helping the cattle out," Mitchell said.

"Mother nature needs to look at us. We need to have a good think about ourselves as well. We need to start backburning when we've got the chance, otherwise this is going to keep happening.

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Latrell Mitchell (second from right) with family and friends helping out with the fires in Taree. Picture: Facebook
Latrell Mitchell (second from right) with family and friends helping out with the fires in Taree. Picture: Facebook

"It's crazy, it's sad. People lose their houses. Farmers work really hard. It's devastating.

Stay safe, make sure you've got a fire plan and get out and get your family right."

Mitchell's plan around his playing future is also closer to being finalised with a the three-year back-ended deal with the Tigers.

It could be finalised within days now that Tigers coach Michael Maguire has returned from coaching New Zealand to take over the top-level negotiations.

Club officials are refusing to confirm Mitchell's arrival just yet, but well-placed sources ­indicate the deal is just about completed.

It is unknown whether the Tigers would need to shift any players to accommodate the expected signing of Mitchell.

He has indicated he wants to switch from centre to start a new career at fullback.

While Mitchell's contract value is confidential, rival clubs are tipping that Wests Tigers will pay around $800,000 for next year, $900,000 the ­following season and $1 million in 2022.

Some factions at Concord are lukewarm on Mitchell but Maguire is a fan of the former NSW centre, who most agree is among rugby league's most damaging players.

It remains unknown where incumbent fullback Corey Thompson would play should Mitchell sign and be named at fullback.

Mitchell remains under contact for next season at Bondi but the Roosters will agree to an early release to Wests Tigers.

 

Latrell Mitchell remains under contract at the Roosters for next season but could be released early. Picture: AAP
Latrell Mitchell remains under contract at the Roosters for next season but could be released early. Picture: AAP

Wests Tigers officials were on Wednesday adamant that no deal had been completed, although contract talks at this level can move swiftly.

Mitchell has a strong desire to play fullback but many believe he would have to change his body shape to cope with the extra workload.