“Obviously Latrell had a pretty nasty hamstring tear and was set for a five- to six-month recovery, but he’s back running and running well,” Souths’ head coach-in-waiting Jason Demetriou told The Sun-Herald.

“He’s bringing a smile to the place. He’s great to have around the group, especially the younger players with a lot of them coming in for their first pre-season. He’s been outstanding for them.

“I know how excited he is to get this pre-Christmas work in so he can hit the ground running in January. He’s in a good place.

“I’m no physio but I wasn’t sure when he’d be running. When I saw him striding out and striding out comfortably, I thought ‘that’s impressive’.”

Souths made it to a third straight preliminary final, leaving fans wondering how far they could have progressed with Mitchell fit and firing.

Mitchell remains off contract beyond this year and while he is happy to take his time with any new deal, has already made it clear how happy he is at the club.

Walker was spotted in training gear on Friday; while Jai Arrow, the new recruit not required to report for training with his new club until the new year, started a couple of days this week to ensure he was “not behind the eight ball”.

Demetriou said it was great to see so many topliners back and completing their own preparations away from the main group, and a lot of the excitement was based on how the club finished the 2020 season.

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