The Canberra Raiders have confirmed restless English star John Bateman will leave the club at the end of this season.
Bateman has been in the headlines regularly since grand final week last year after he controversially revealed in an interview that he was seeking a pay upgrade and would go elsewhere to get it if he needed to.
Nine months later the saga finally has a resolution with Canberra unprepared to pay him what he believes he is worth.
“The club made the difficult decision to allow John to pursue other long-term options and as a result, 2020 will be his final season with the Raiders,” club CEO Don Furner said in a statement.
“We’re looking forward to John returning from his shoulder injury soon and finishing his time by helping us make the semi finals again.
“John was fantastic in 2019, featuring in our first Grand Final appearance since 1994 and winning the Dally M for second rower of the year.”
Bateman had been contracted until the end of next season but the release will allow the English Test star to weigh up his options on the open market.
Struggling NRL clubs the Bulldogs and the Dragons have both been linked to his signature, while his former club in the Super League, Wigan, have said they are monitoring his future closely. Bateman is understood to be chasing a deal in the ball park of $800,000-a-season, which would make him one of the highest paid forwards in the competition.
“The Raiders gave me an opportunity to come to Australia and play in the NRL and I’ve loved every moment playing for the club,” Bateman said in a statement.
“I’m doing everything I can to make sure I get back on the field as soon as possible and finish my last season with the Raiders on a high.”
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