NSW coach Brad Fittler believes Latrell Mitchell could be a fullback in the mould of Greg Inglis or Jarryd Hayne if he makes the positional switch with a new club next season.
Mitchell has told Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson he wanted to shift from centre to fullback and appears set to join Wests Tigers next season after the premiers indicated they were prepared to release him.
The 22-year-old visited North Queensland this week but the Cowboys are still hopeful Valentine Holmes will give up his NFL dream, while the Tigers have reportedly tabled a $4 million, four-year deal for Mitchell and are prepared to play him at fullback.
Questions have been raised as to why the best centre in the game would want to change positions but Fittler said the 22-year-old could emulate Inglis, who helped South Sydney to the 2014 premiership as a fullback and has worn the No.1 jersey for Australia and Queensland.
“I reckon if Latrell puts his mind to it, I reckon Latrell can do anything,” Fittler said at a launch of the Blues' new State of Origin jerseys. “He’s an incredibly capable bloke.
All of Latrell Mitchell's tries from 2019
“There’s obviously challenges playing fullback. I’m gathering he’d have to get a little bit fitter and if you look at the ground they cover at the moment, it is a tough job. You wouldn’t go into that lightly.
“But you look at Greg Inglis, he’s not the most aerobically fit bloke, or Jarryd Hayne - they all did really good jobs at fullback. He’ll make it his own if he ends up playing there, I’m sure.”
Mitchell was a member of the NSW team that won the 2018 Origin series but he was dropped after last season’s loss in the opening match.
If he was to play fullback, Mitchell would have to overcome Roosters team-mate James Tedesco and Manly’s Tom Trbojevic for the Blues or Australian No.1 jersey.
Fittler said he wanted to stick by the players who won back-to-back Origin series but would only do so if their NRL form warranted selection.
“As long as the players can keep doing that and keep raising the bar,” Fittler said. “What we have shown is that we have got a bit of depth. I don’t think we have had that in the past 10 years.
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“We have got a great hooker and obviously we have got a great fullback and some other players who have been there for a while now but if there is an injury or a few guys take their eye off the ball there is opportunities there.
“I think what we have shown is that we will pick player if we feel that they are the best player for the job so I think that has kept everyone on their toes and it raises the level of their club footy.”