Monday Buzz: Give Latrell Mitchell a break
Latrell Mitchell is supposed to be enjoying his holiday.
Footballers are like all of us - they get tired and jaded after a long year of work and need a break.
The difference is we relax and escape for a month to beautiful places like Hawaii, Surfers Paradise or Noosa, while he gets hammered for skipping a meeting with Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire and not rushing into a huge contract decision.
It's why your columnist is feeling sorry for the Sydney Roosters outcast and the enormous pressure being applied to him to make an instant call on his future.
It is seriously wrong.
From day one, Latrell has been shockingly advised. The meeting at the home of Canterbury Leagues Club chairman George Coorey during the finals was instigated by a third party, not him.
The dinner in Townsville with the Cowboys was organised by his manager, Wayde Rushton, not him.
The Cowboys used him as a tactic to put pressure on Val Holmes to sign.
His manager used it as a ploy to show the Wests Tigers there was interest elsewhere when there never really was. (Hence the TV cameras at a dinner.) None of this is actually Latrell's fault.
Then along came the Gold Coast Titans and now a phone call to the Wallabies.
This is absolute madness.
Rival agents have been constantly harassing him. A free Mercedes. Anthony Mundine in one ear. His dad in the other. Then his agent. And Mal Meninga. It's become a whirlpool of confusion.
This guy is a 22-year-old footballer, not a university graduate.
There is no longer Trent Robinson to cuddle when he needs good people around and good messages.
There is talk he feels unloved and under-appreciated. That he can be aloof and even arrogant, two characteristics that go against the very grain of the Roosters' culture.
He can be reluctant to involve himself in team activities, like last week's Hollywood adventure.
Whatever it is, the original decision to reject the Roosters' first offer of $800,000 was on the advice of his manager.
On face value, it could look disrespectful yet there is no crime in checking out the market.
Every player in the game does the same thing whenever their contract expires.
Cameron Smith threatened to quit in September yet no one hassled him. He was left alone to peacefully work it out.
Cody Walker is in the same position at the South Sydney Rabbitohs. So is Jack Wighton at the Canberra Raiders.
They have been unable to reach long-term agreements but are quietly trying to get it sorted out.
Latrell has not been afforded the same latitude or freedom. He is a back-page story, a TV sports lead almost every day of the week.
The Roosters have even threatened to send him to the North Sydney Bears to play in the second-tier comp. They want to move on without all the drama.
Personally, I'd love for him to somehow stay at the Roosters, where he is still contracted next year.
It would take a huge about-face from all parties.
Latrell has had a full-on season. With the finals and rep games, he has played eight weeks longer than many others. He's had only a couple of weeks off since the Test matches.
It is 2019 and he cannot play for another club until 2021.
What if he wants to back himself and play the house down for the Roosters next year?
Give the guy a break. Let him enjoy some down time. And everyone else can take a chill pill.