A top secret meeting in a coastal holiday town between a Hollywood movie star, a billionaire and a rugby league super coach sealed the deal to recruit one of NRL’s biggest rising stars.
Fresh details of Latrell Mitchell’s newly-signed lucrative deal with the South Sydney Rabbitohs have come to light with the surprise revelation billionaire James Packer was heavily involved in the talks over a private dinner.
It’s understood the casino magnate and Rabbitohs part-owner secretly flew to Coffs Harbour on the NSW north coast in his private jet to meet with Souths coach Wayne Bennett, Oscar winner Russell Crowe to wine and dine the NSW Origin star and his father earlier this month.
They met over an intimate dinner catered by a personal chef at Crowe’s sprawling 400 hectare estate at Nana Glen near Coffs Harbour, where Crowe, with Packer’s help convinced the Dally M centre of year to don the green and red jersey in 2020, The Sunday Telegraph reported.
James Packer (bottom left) flew to Coffs Harbour to help secure the signing of Latrell Mitchell at the estate of South Sydney co-owner and Hollywood actor Russell Crowe (top right)
While Mitchell’s dash north with his dad to meet with NRL super coach Bennett and Crowe has been previously reported, Packer’s attendance at the dinner was top secret, until now.
Mitchell turned down Souths’ first offer, despite Crowe leaving a memorable impression on him.
‘It was fantastic to meet Russell Crowe, he is a generous host and very passionate about the Rabbitohs but the truth is I’m yet to decide my future,’ Mitchell told the Daily Telegraph earlier this month.
‘I’ve got a number of things to weigh up and I hope to be able to announce my new club in the coming days.’
His dad also reportedly left Coffs Harbour impressed.
Latrell Mitchell (pictured with partner Brielle) turned down Souths’ initial offer before signing
The star-studded dinner was held at Crowe’s sprawling estate at Nana Glen (entrance pictured)
‘He [Crowe] is one of the most placid men I’ve met in a long time. For a Hollywood superstar he’s a real down to earth fulla,’ Matt Mitchell told nrl.com.au following his son’s new deal.
‘Anyone would swear he’s got a mansion but he doesn’t, he has a beautiful little farmhouse for his mum and dad and a place there for him and his family.
‘He didn’t even talk about football, Russell just showed us around the farm. He said to us football can only get you so far and if this is what you want and what you’re passionate about then work towards it.’
At around the same time of rejecting the Souths’ initial offer, Mitchell confirmed to his fans that his four seasons with the Roosters had ended.
Latrell Mitchell’s NRL future was confirmed last week after signing a new deal with Souths
His future in the tri-colours has been uncertain for much of the off-season after the Roosters withdrew a $800,000 a season contract offer.
‘I can not describe the way I feel right now but just wanted to let everyone know involved in my career through my stint here, I am so very grateful for you all,’ Mitchell told his 183,000 Instagram followers earlier this month.
‘Humbled to be able to play with such a rich history club didn’t think as a Country boy I’d be able to transition to the city but roosters made that possible.
‘To the boys! Playing alongside of you all was something I’ll hold close to my heart.
‘Nothing has been made official as of yet. But my stay at the Roosters has come to an end. On to the next chapter where ever that may be.’
His manager Matt Rose made a counter offer to Souths and Mitchell signed the dotted line two days later on a one-year deal with another year option in the club’s favour.
He has big shoes to fill in the fullback role vacated by retired NRL superstar Greg Inglis.
The deal with one of the Roosters’ most bitter arch rivals is estimated to be worth $1.4 million over two years.
The Wests Tigers reportedly offered Mitchell $1 million per season for four years but were unable to seal the deal while Gold Coast, North Queensland and Canterbury were also touted as possible options of a new home.
James Packer and Russell Crowe (pictured together) convinced Mitchell over a private dinner that Redfern was his new home in the NRL
Former Sydney Roosters star Latrell Mitchell will play for arch rivals South Sydney in 2020
The Roosters formally released Mitchell from the final year of his deal this week on the condition he paid out his former manager Steve Deacon.
Mitchell has played 96 NRL games, scored 65 tries and won back to back premierships with the Roosters since his debut in 2016.
He has represented Australia in four Tests and played four State of Origin games for NSW.
The 22-year-old played a starring role for the Roosters in 2019 with 19 tries, a league-high 273 points, along with a second premiership.
Mitchell and his partner Brielle recently announced via a gender reveal video uploaded on social media that they are expecting their second daughter in April.
NRL supercoach Wayne Bennett (pictured with his new signing) also attended the talks