Latrell Mitchell, Cody Walker and Damien Cook staying to win Souths premiership
In a ringing endorsement for the trajectory of South Sydney under the direction of head coach Jason Demetriou, the club’s three biggest names are about to extend their future at Redfern.
3 min read
October 29, 2022 - 12:00PM
News Corp Australia Sports Newsroom
Christmas has come early for South Sydney with Latrell Mitchell
, Cody Walker and Damien Cook on the verge of rejecting rival interest to lock-in their futures at Redfern.
The stunning triple treat keeps South Sydney’s premiership window open, while hampering the build of the NRL’s new baby, The Dolphins
Without a contract beyond 2023, the club’s biggest fish, Mitchell, is aiming to sign a long-term deal which is designed to tie him to the club until the end of 2027.
In a ringing endorsement for the trajectory of South Sydney after just 12-months under the direction of head coach Jason Demetriou, Mitchell’s retention will be the longest NRL contract he has ever signed.
Star trio (L-R) Damien Cook, Cody Walker and Latrell Mitchell are all poised to extend their stay at the club. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images
Demetriou’s relationship and man management of Mitchell throughout 2022 – by encouraging freedom to express himself both on and off the field – was pivotal to the emotional fullback producing some of his best football during the Rabbitohs’ charge towards the finals last season.
Also off-contract beyond 2023, Walker is about to put pen to paper on a two-year deal, which will take the star five-eighth out to 2025.
Walker, meticulous in his preparation and study of the opposition through hours of video, is being backed by management to maintain his football smarts and elusiveness beyond his 33rd birthday in January, while being a major influence in the development of rookie halfback Lachlan Ilias.
Jason Demetriou has formed a great bond with superstar Latrell Mitchell. Picture: Matt King/Getty Images
Ilias has already committed his future to Souths until the end of 2025.
Like Mitchell, Walker’s ability to temper his emotions, particularly when needled by the opposition, will be crucial for the Rabbitohs to get the best out of the damaging duo.
Cook, one of the most lethal hookers in the NRL, will also strike a two-year deal until the end of 2025.
Cook turns 32 next June and is passionate about winning a premiership with the Rabbitohs before he retires.
Revered by his coaches for his discipline and preparation, Cook will also be crucial in helping show the club’s next batch of young playmakers, notably hooker Peter Mamouzelos and half/fullback Blake Taaffe, what is required for the week-to-week grind of the NRL.
The retention of (L and C) Latrell Mitchell and Cody Walker will help the development of young playmaker Lachlan Ilias (R). Picture: Matt King/Getty Images
The three big signings will be trumpeted by South Sydney once Mitchell returns from the World Cup.
The re-signing of Mitchell, Walker and Cook is a further blow for The Dolphins, who are suffering from a slower than expected build of their roster.
The new kids on the block had been hoping that former Souths coach Wayne Bennett’s relationship with either of the three Rabbitohs could entice one of them to Queensland.
In the end the dynamic trio have decided to stay under Demetriou, who is preparing for the new season with a squad that will be unchanged and without any key changes to their spine ahead of 2023.
In a further boost for South Sydney and Demetriou’s settled squad, Shaquai Mitchell – the older brother of Mitchell – will also extend his stay at the Bunnies by at least another 12-months.
Shaquai is a sensational story of perseverance and desire.
Earning $1,000 a week on a train and trial contract last summer, the 26-year old lost almost 30 kgs with the Rabbitohs last summer.
His new deal to stay at Redfern for 2023 and potentially beyond has emerged just a few years after reportedly ballooning to 167 kgs as he fought depression and anxiety.
Shaquai Mitchell has also extended his stay at the Rabbitohs. Picture: Sunny Brar/South Sydney Rabbitohs
Shaquai made his NRL debut in round eight this year, finishing with a total of three games in 2022, offering size and punch from the interchange bench on all three occasions.
Finishing within one game of the grand final, the Rabbitohs are a club that are thriving from stability across every facet of their business, but needing one final puzzle piece locked-in to ensure their entry into 2023 is without distraction.
Impressed with the head coach’s style, development of players and individual performances, South Sydney management indicated last month they are in the process of extending Demetriou’s contract – which expires at the end of next season – to at least the end of 2024.
With the re-signing of the club’s biggest stars secure, tying down their coach long-term is a must.