Latrell Mitchell has been granted a leave of absence by the Roosters, excusing him of all club commitments until further notice.
He was due to return to training with the club tomorrow but a clear line in the sand has been drawn with the superstar wanted off the pay roll as soon as possible.
The Mitchell contract saga has been one of the most enduring NRL stories of the summer, with the Roosters pulling an $800,000-a-season offer soon after winning the grand final.
Roosters give time-frame on Mitchell decision
That move blindsided Mitchell and his management team and despite interest from a number of clubs and several reported offers of roughly $1 million-a-season over the last two months the 22-year-old is still yet to sort out his future.
Mitchell is still contracted to the Roosters for the 2020 season but they have already started planning for an historic three-peat without him and no longer have the appetite to keep the media circus rolling.
This afternoon the club released an official statement confirming Mitchell had been asked to stay away from training.
The statement read: “In lead-up to the club’s return to pre-season, Sydney Roosters player Latrell Mitchell has been granted a leave of absence, excusing him from all training commitments. The club will be making no further comment at this time.”
According to a report earlier this weekend, South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett is desperate to secure the signature of Mitchell despite publicly denying that his club was in the hunt.
However, having recently signed Jai Arrow on big money, the Rabbitohs may no longer have the required room in the salary cap to pay the supersized contract needed to get Mitchell through the door.
Arrow is still signed to the Titans for 2020 but is reportedly keen to get out of the last year of his deal and join the Rabbitohs who need reinforcements in the pack having lost Sam Burgess to retirement.
That scenario would put the squeeze on at Redfern which could force Mitchell to look elsewhere.
There is also the added complication of Mitchell’s representation, with multiple player agents involved in talks with different clubs about his future.
Mitchell has reportedly split with Wayne Rushton to sign with Matt Rose but that in itself is murky with suggestions Rushton is after a juicy pay out figure, which could be up to $140,000.
It all makes for a fascinating start to January with the storyline of the summer to roll on until Mitchell is signed, sealed and delivered to a new club.