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South Sydney are considering moving superstar Latrell Mitchell out of the fullback position next season to make way for Jack Wighton as the club begins an internal review into a season of missed opportunities.
Mitchell’s future in the No.1 jersey will be a topic of discussion over the summer as the club looks to find its way back into a premiership contention following one of the most dramatic end-of-season capitulations in the NRL era under coach Jason Demetriou.
A club official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to protect his identity, said that the question of Mitchell’s positional future would be asked of Demetriou during the review. The Herald has been told the coach still believes he can get the best out of him at fullback.
It comes as Sam Burgess reaffirmed his commitment to coaching Super League club Warrington next season amid speculation in the United Kingdom that the 2014 premiership-winner was being sounded out about a potential role as head coach of South Sydney next year.
A Warrington official, speaking under the condition of anonymity to protect his identity, confirmed the club had been made aware of speculation that a high-level Rabbitohs figure wanted Burgess to consider returning to the club he walked out on a fortnight ago.
Warrington were told it was presented as a potential swap deal that would see Demetriou head to the Super League and Burgess remain in Australia. South Sydney management denied they were angling to remove Demetriou, while Burgess declined to comment.
Latrell Mitchell and Sam Burgess at training during a happier time earlier in the year.Credit: Getty
South Sydney co-owner Russell Crowe is friends with Warrington owner Simon Moran, and provided a reference for Burgess when he applied for the job.
The Herald has also learned that Burgess doesn’t yet hold the qualifications required to coach in Super League, but the Rugby Football League, the governing body for rugby league in England, is making an exception for him.
The Englishman has agreed to complete the required level three coaching course online during his time at Warrington.
Speculation regarding uncertainty over the coaching ability of Demetriou only adds to the pressure on the coach, whose side fell from first place after 11 rounds to missing the finals with just four wins from their last 13 games.
Demetriou signed a three-year extension midway through the season, but his future will still be the topic of great conjecture if he can’t get the Bunnies to fire next year.
One of the biggest decisions that he will have to make over the summer will be where he plays Mitchell, who has come under fire in recent weeks. Some pundits have said he lacks the fitness and commitment to fulfilling the fullback role at the same standard of some of his elite counterparts.
The Rabbitohs are considering moving Mitchell to the centres, where he has starred in Origin and won two premierships with the Roosters.
Mitchell’s fullback understudy, Blake Taafe, is off to the Bulldogs next year, but the club will welcome Canberra star Jack Wighton.
There is a belief internally that Mitchell can still be at his devastating best if he is given a license to roam from the centre position, allowing Wighton to assume the off-the-ball and more arduous tasks that go unnoticed by the likes of James Tedesco and Dylan Edwards.
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