Ricky Stuart has said his personal relationship with departing Raiders star John Bateman won’t be affected by his messy exit but league great Mark Geyer says the English star won’t don the Raiders jersey ever again.
Bateman announced on Tuesday he’ll be leaving the nation’s capital at the end of the season after pushing for an upgrade per the terms of his original three-year deal.
The star English back-rower is a free agent for next season and will more than likely sign a lucrative deal in England or sign with the Bulldogs.
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Stuart didn’t mince words when asked about the star’s release and accused Bateman’s manager Isaac Moses of “agitating” and “manipulating” clubs to get big-money deals for his clients but the moves may not be in the player’s best interests.
Even though the Raiders coach said he had no problems with Bateman – Geyer took issue with how the whole situation played out.
When asked if Bateman had played his last game for the club the former Origin forward said: “Unfortunately, yep.”
“I don’t begrudge any player getting as much money as they can,” Geyer said on Triple M.
“This is the toughest game in the world, I don’t begrudge anyone. I begrudge the way they do it.
“Be face to face, be man to man. Shake my hand and say see ya later. I love being here but it’s time to go home. It’s time to go back to Wigan or it’s time to make more money.
“But don’t hide in the shadows. Be transparent, you make more friends.
“Is he out for the rest of the year (injured) or not? No (I wouldn’t pick him).”
A shoulder injury has stopped Bateman from playing so far this season but he’s hoping to be fit and available for the second half of the year.
The Englishman is considering a three-year offer from the Bulldogs and a four-year deal from his old Super League team Wigan, with both contracts understood to be worth around $2 million.
A return home seems to be the most likely option for the 26-year-old, with the star wanting to be closer to his 10-year-old daughter and his extended family.
Legendary Raiders fullback Gary Belcher also weighed in over the messy contract saga, describing the manner in which negotiations unfolded as “not right”.
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It’s been reported the former Wigan player lobbied Raiders management for a release four times, starting last season, even though the financial terms he was on in Canberra put him up towards the top bracket for forwards.
“It frustrates me and I know it’s closer to me because it’s the Canberra Raiders but it just stinks of greed here,” Belcher said on the Sportsday radio show.
“He’s tossed up ‘I’ve got to do what’s best for my family,’ his daughter’s back home in England. Well if he’s got to do what’s best for his family then he should be back home in England, really, that’s what’s best.
“He might not get paid the same money, but he can still get paid a hell of a lot more than the average worker to play football back at Wigan.
“They’re apparently his two options, Canterbury is a good one if he wants to stay in the NRL, you’ll earn more money but he’s not doing the right thing.
“I believe you’ve got a contract and the Raiders signed him on good faith hoping he would be able to play in the NRL and be up to scratch. He turned out to be outstanding, Dally M Second Rower of the Year last year, but they took a risk. He was paid $600,000 a year, that’s great money.
“You’ve got your manager in your ear telling you that you can get more and all of a sudden … you’re not doing the right thing. There’s a better way to go about this.”