South Sydney have declared Latrell Mitchell can become one of the NRL's best fullbacks after the superstar No.1 inked a new two-year deal with the club.
Mitchell confirmed on Monday he would be staying put until at least the end of 2023, ready to live up to the challenge laid down by club officials. Questioned when he first moved to the back under Wayne Bennett last year, Mitchell looked to be hitting his straps when a hamstring blow ended his season.
Souths boss Blake Solly believes Mitchell could be one of the game's best fullbacks, while captain Adam Reynolds says there was no reason why he couldn't be No.1. Mitchell himself also didn't shy away from the predictions, reminding critics he is now playing in his preferred position.
"It's going to take time," Mitchell said.
"I was never a centre and I was the best centre in the game. I just want to focus on myself and my position and the sky is the limit."
Mitchell's deal is believed to be close to $800,000 a year, with the 23-year-old having been desperate to have it sorted before round one. Key in it was Mitchell's growing role in the Indigenous community at Redfern, with the Taree junior now one of the leading voices in the game in that space.
But the Rabbitohs' faith in Mitchell at fullback is a big part of his reason to stay. He wanted to move to No.1 before joining Souths last year, but was never going to shift James Tedesco at the Sydney Roosters.
Bennett has heavily invested in Mitchell at fullback and while he is not a running No.1 he set up 15 tries and 26 linebreaks in 14 games last season.
"It's been awesome for me confidence wise," Mitchell said.
"He has seen a lot of fullbacks in his time so for him to have confidence in me and be at the back for his coaching.
"It really gives me a sense of belief to really do my role and be the best for the team.
"We've got big things to do here and I think premiership is on the list first at the top."
The prospect of Mitchell returning to a team that scored 403 points from their last 12 games in 2020 would be mouth-watering for Souths.
But so too is the former NSW State of Origin centre's ceiling for his teammates.
"It's up to him and how he wants to value himself," Reynolds said.
"He has all the skills, all the attributes to be the best fullback in the game. It comes down to hard work and combinations. A lot of things.
"I don't think he needs the added pressure because he is pretty heavily scrutinised.
"But there is no doubt in my eyes he could be the best."