Mal: We’re not funding Latrell’s Coastal vacation
Mal Meninga will up the ante for Latrell Mitchell in the wake of the Tigers' withdrawal but has warned the Kangaroos ace not to treat the Gold Coast as a high-paid holiday.
The saga surrounding Mitchell's future took another twist on Thursday after the Tigers withdrew a $3.8 million offer for the disgruntled Rooster.
The Titans are now a leading contender to snare Mitchell after coach Justin Holbrook revealed his desire to bring the NSW Origin star to the Gold Coast.
Wests grew tired with being used as a pawn in Mitchell's protracted contract drama and decided to pull out of the race, although the Tigers did not rule out reopening negotiations.
The Tigers' decision opened the door for the Titans to make a play for Mitchell, but the Gold Coast would have to move mountains to fit his near $1 million-a-season asking price into their 2020 salary cap.
Meninga, pulling the strings as the Titans' chief recruiter, said he wanted Mitchell at the Gold Coast, but only for the right reasons.
"We are in the picture for Latrell for 2021 and 2022, but it just depends on what happens with Latrell for next season," he told The Courier-Mail.
"In terms of money, that's not paramount for me. We won't be winning a bidding war for him. I would like to get Latrell up and have a good chat to him.
"I'm interested but whether we progress to a formal offer depends on what Latrell wants for his football and his life in general. I want to gauge Latrell's mindset and that will dictate how he plays and what's important to him.
"I know family and his indigenous heritage is important to him but I also need to see what plan Latrell has for his football and how we can help develop him as a player and person for the long term.
"It's important Latrell knows footy will have to come first at the Titans. Yes, the Gold Coast is a great place to live but it's not a holiday up here.
"I want to know what Latrell wants to make him happy and how he can deliver consistent performances for the Titans.
"We want to be a successful club. We want someone at our club who will dedicate himself to the club and do all the right things and display the right habits.
"The lifestyle up here is only one aspect. Latrell has to be invested with his football too."
The Titans know all too well about paying players huge salaries to have a holiday on the Gold Coast, having been burnt by a number of poor recruitment decisions over the past few years.
Holbrook helped develop Mitchell as a teenager at the Roosters and said the 22-year-old could be a revelation for the 2019 wooden spoon collectors.
"We all know what a great player he is," Holbrook said.
"I know him well. I worked at the Roosters as an assistant when he came through and played there.
"The maturity and way he played back then as an 18-year-old having the confidence to back himself over whoever he was playing was a great attribute. You knew how good a player he was already.
"He's a great player in the game and one I'm sure the club would be happy to talk to.
"I haven't spoken to him so I don't know where it's at."
Holbrook said he had not spoken to Roosters coach Trent Robinson about the circumstances surrounding Mitchell's impending departure from Bondi.