Roosters already have a Latrell replacement
MEET the rising teenage prodigy ready to step in and replace Latrell Mitchell at the Sydney Roosters.
Exciting centre Billy Smith has been part of the Roosters' extended NRL squad for the past two seasons, already striking up an impressive combination with superstar fullback James Tedesco.
The Roosters are likely to be on the lookout for a new centre after it was revealed they had withdrawn an $800,000 offer to the Kangaroos centre for season 2021 and beyond following a meeting with coach Trent Robinson at the club's Moore Park headquarters on Tuesday.
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It's understood the Roosters were prepared to offer Mitchell an immediate release if he signed with another club before the start of next season.
Rather than delve into the free agency market, the Roosters have an emerging replacement coming through the ranks in Smith.
Given the retirement of $1 million-a-season halfback Cooper Cronk, Mitchell's departure would leave them in a strong salary cap position to target the game's premier 2021 free agents, headlined by Brisbane forward David Fifita.
The Roosters are believed to be keen to lure Fifita, 19, to Bondi, while rivals South Sydney would use the salary cap space created by the retirement of Sam Burgess to tempt him to Redfern.
At 191cm and 99kg, Smith is a similar size to Mitchell (193cm and 102kg) and could slot into that Roosters' left edge including Luke Keary, captain Boyd Cordner and winger Daniel Tupou.
Smith, 19, made his NRL debut in the Roosters' 34-12 win over St George Illawarra in round 23 in August, finishing off a scintillating try after Tedesco put him into the clear with a slick pass.
"It's what dreams are made of. I've been thinking of that moment since I was a little boy," he said of his debut, which came after he overcame a serious knee injury.
"It's been a pretty long 11 months for me with the ACL injury.
"Robbo's got so much confidence in me and I really feel that. The boys have a lot of faith in my ability. It's easy for me, I just play off the back of those boys."
Tedesco is definitely a fan of Smith. In August he revealed he had enlisted Smith and Lachlan Lam to help improve his catch and pass skills.
"Billy Smith and Lachie Lam are my guys, so I just grab those boys and we'll work together because Latrell Mitchell is always working on his goal kicking.
"Billy Smith is a centre and he'll work on his quick hands and he'll do some long passes with me. Lachie will do his catch and pass too. It's a little crew we have and we always work together after most sessions."
That assistance from the Roosters youngsters helped Tedesco reach the peak of his powers in 2019, where he won NSW's Brad Fittler, the State of Origin Mal Meninga Medal, the RLPA's Players Champion, Medallist, Dally M Fullback of the Year and Dally M Medallist.
The Roosters are mindful of the fact their Australian and NSW captain Cordner and champion fullback Tedesco need to be their highest paid players.
Smith was a standout for the Wyong Roos in the NSW Intrust Super Premiership in 2018 before suffering that ACL injury, which delayed his 2019 campaign.