Friend says Mitchell ready for round one

He’s been compared to Greg Inglis, and now his captain says Sydney Roosters rookie Latrell Mitchell is ready to show NRL fans why.

Mitchell could be the silver lining in what has been a nightmare pre-season for the Roosters that included the Mitchell Pearce saga, the hasty departure of gun centre Michael Jennings and a long-term injury to Boyd Cordner.

Given his chance, the rookie outside back prodigy produced eye-catching performances at the Auckland Nines and World Club Series that could soon earn him a spot in the Roosters’ NRL starting line-up.

At the NRL’s season launch on Thursday, Roosters skipper Jake Friend said he wasn’t brave enough to rule Mitchell out of what would be his NRL debut.

“I’m not sure what the team’s going to be for round one, but obviously it was a good performance by him against St Helens on Friday night,” Friend told AAP.

“He’s big boy, very strong, and I think he’s ready to play – but whether it’s round one or round five, I don’t know.

“He’s trained hard and had a big pre-season so credit to him. He’s got himself ready and now he’s fighting for a jumper.”

Mitchell could be one of a handful of youngsters coach Trent Robinson turns to as he attempts to fill the void left by Pearce, Cordner and the recovering Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (knee).

It’s a far cry from the side that collected its third straight minor premiership last year, however Friend backed the team’s youth to perform.

Brisbane recruit Jayden Nikorima, is another who performed well in the WCS match and he will be expected to step up in halfback Pearce’s absence, along with halves partner Jackson Hastings.

“They’ve trained well and they’ve done the work so they should be confident in that and I’m sure they’ll go well in round one,” Friend said.

“Jayden’s looking forward to the challenge. I’m sure they’ll get the job done and steer us around for the early part of the season.”

Friend is another who’ll have to shoulder more responsibility in former co-captain Pearce’s absence, captaining the team by himself for the first time in his career.

“It’s something new for me, but it’s still just footy. My footy won’t change a whole lot but I’m looking forward to the challenge as well,” he said.

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