Latrell Mitchell has made such an immediate impression at South Sydney he is already on track to become an even bigger deal than fan favourite Greg Inglis.
South Sydney boss Shane Richardson was heavily involved in luring Inglis and Mitchell to the Redfern club, and has been blown away by how quickly their latest rockstar signing has been embraced.
Latrell Mitchell needed less than a minute to set up a Souths try on Saturday night.Credit:Getty
So when asked if Souths have won their 22nd title with Mitchell on board, Richardson laughed and told the Herald: "We'll have to wait and see.
"But Latrell is certainly a superstar amongst the fans and has certainly settled in. He's on his way to proving as popular as GI. Maybe he'll even go past him.
"Greg and Latrell are very similar, they are great players, great indigenous players, and they both fit in with the whole Souths psyche.
"Greg was at the peak of his powers when he came to us, but the difference was Greg was shattered at the time because he had been forced to move on from the Melbourne Storm where he had been since he was 16.
"With Latrell, he's come here, he's happy to be here and like Greg he'll find his niche here. Latrell won't be going anywhere. We've got an option for next year, and Latrell will be here, there's no question about that.''
Latrell Mitchell has been swamped by fans at every public outing since signing with Souths.Credit:AAP
One concern amongst the Souths faithful is the level of exposure Mitchell has received since he signed, which came on the back of a very public split from the Sydney Roosters that had already dragged on for months.
Teammate Damien Cook politely made a point of giving Mitchell space after he watched him play 40 minutes against St George Illawarra on the weekend.
"It'd be nice to just keep away from him a little bit,'' Cook said. "He's young and we want to make sure he's still enjoying his footy.''
Mindful to have their No. 1 mentally fresh for Saturday week's opener against Cronulla, Souths will shield Mitchell from doing any interviews in the lead-up. He did not do any media in Mudgee.
But Mitchell will be impossible to miss when the NRL launches its latest advertising campaign this week. Richardson said Mitchell was mature beyond his years but it was important his life away from the field gets a chance to settle down.
"And we'll give him that time, he's got another baby on the way and he's really happy. You can see he's happy,'' Richardson said.
It is impossible to believe Souths and Mitchell only became an official item six weeks ago. There was speculation first linking Mitchell and Souths last April, but the first contact did not happen until the weeks leading up to Christmas, said Richardson.
Once Inglis retired, the cash freed up in the Souths cap was used to sign James Roberts and Jayden Su'a from Brisbane, while a couple of other players were upgraded.
And when Sam Burgess retired, Souths wanted a like-for-like forward, including David Fifita, but the Bronco has not been spoken to since the start of December and was no longer an option, Richardson said. Tyson Frizell's management were also in dialogue but any Redfern move was torpedoed once Mitchell signed.
Richardson still remembers meeting Mitchell and his family in the Souths board room across the road from Redfern and getting the deal done.
Hollywood owner Russell Crowe met Mitchell at his Coffs Harbour property, but only after he had already agreed to terms, and simply wanted to meet the man who could very well prove more popular than GI.
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