Latrell Mitchell has seemingly moved closer to an exit from Sydney Roosters after the club granted him a leave of absence ahead of their return to pre-season training.
One of the most highly rated players in the NRL, Mitchell has been the subject of persistent speculation linking him with a transfer away from the reigning premiers, with South Sydney Rabbitohs now reported to be his most likely destination.
In November, the Roosters confirmed they had withdrawn a new contract offer to the centre, whose existing deal covers the upcoming season, after he "expressed that he would like to explore his options for season 2021".
A fresh club statement on Sunday read: "In lead-up to the club's return to pre-season, Sydney Roosters player Latrell Mitchell has been granted a leave of absence, excusing him from all training commitments.
"The club will be making no further comment at this time."
While a host of NRL sides have been linked with Mitchell, the Rabbitohs have emerged as the leading contenders to sign the 22-year-old Australia international, despite coach Wayne Bennett stating last week: "We won't be signing Latrell."