Young Roosters star Latrell Mitchell may be turning heads with some stunning efforts at NRL level already this season but both he and his coach insist he needs more time to settle into his new role as a centre before he deserves to be spoken about as a future Origin representative.
The 19-year-old put in another eye-catching effort in a dominant 20-6 win over the Rabbitohs on Thursday night, scoring one try and passing for another en route to create three line breaks but his coach Trent Robinson was unequivocal when asked about Mitchell's 2017 Origin hopes.
"Not yet. He's on his way, I think we can all see that but he's not yet ready," Robinson said in the post-match press conference after Mitchell's fourth-ever game at centre.
"He's doing the stuff that people like to watch but it's not about just falling over the line, you've got to be at the top of your game and he needs to improve continually.
"We're really happy with where he's going and the way he's improving [but] he hasn't played centre much. If he keeps improving and keeps working on the other parts of the game that other people don't see then he'll be ready to perform well at any level."
However Robinson believed centre was "definitely" the former fullback's best position for the foreseeable future.
Mitchell wasn't present for Robinson's media address but was clearly reading from the same hymn book.
"There's a lot more to scoring tries and what people don't see off the field – I've got to get myself right and my 'D' and keep working on combinations, if that comes it comes," Mitchell said.
He hopes to represent NSW "When I'm ready" but doesn't think that time has come yet.
"I'm still trying to fit in playing that centre role. I don't think I'm ready just yet but hopefully I get that jersey [one day]."
Mitchell said having played almost no centre before this year it took some time to adapt to the new role but is starting to feel more comfortable – particularly given the assistance of fellow left-edge players Dan Tupou, Luke Keary and Boyd Cordner.
"I like being physical and being in the line and tackling with the boys. It takes a toll on you as well, it's a mentality to get right. You've got to be on in defence, you've got to know what they're running and what plays are coming at you," he said.
"I talk to Luke Keary, I'll tell him when I want it and when I don't and he sort of goes off that but when Luke thinks he sees something he just goes and I play off the back of him.
"He's really blending in well and if we keep playing the way we are I think we can go a step further.
"It's in the stage where we're still getting our combination [on that edge], still trying to get our 'D' on and work together but I think 'Toops' and I've got Keary on the inside, they make me play better having those two around me and Boyd as our back-rower. What they do helps me."
This article first appeared on NRL.com