Dally M second-rower of the year John Bateman is “no longer a part of the Raiders’ future” and the club would be best to “never deal with him again,” says NRL guru Phil Gould.
Gould’s hard-line stance comes after the star import announced on Tuesday he’d 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.
It’s a fall from grace for the one-time club favourite who, after setting the league alight last season, miffed fans by announcing days before the grand-final that he was willing to walk from the club if they couldn’t improve on his $600,000-a-year deal.
Having strong-armed the Raiders into a release, Bateman’s saga marks another chapter in the NRL’s increasingly problematic relationship with player managers who have time again made mockeries of league contracts.
It’s a relationship that Gould has previously stressed needed to be re-examined by the NRL, but stopped short of pardoning Bateman for his role in the highly-publicised and messy exit.
“Terrible, absolutely terrible,” Gould said on Wide World of Sports’ Six Tackles with Gus podcast. “And again, yet another example of player managers having far too much influence in our game.
“As I’ve said, there are a lot of good player managers that are good to deal with. But there are others that are less caring than that and just totally out for a dollar and whatever else they can gain for themselves.
“I think the Raiders have made a wise decision there and they should just forget about it very very quickly. John Bateman’s no longer a part of their future, they’ve got a good roster, they should just get on with that and forget about him and I would recommend never deal with him again, but that’s just my own personal view.”
Bateman is currently sidelined with a shoulder injury that has kept him from featuring in the NRL this season, with the hope of being fit for the back end of the year.
Coach Ricky Stuart said he held no bad feeling toward his departing star despite accusing player manager Isaac Moses of “agitating” and “manipulating” the club, while NRL great Mark Geyer encouraged the premiership coach not to pick in his side again.
Gould stopped short of drawing a line through Bateman’s selection in 2020 but said it would be down to the dynamic of Bateman’s presence in the players group.
“That will depend on how he handles his rehab, how he is around the playing group himself,” Gould said.
Stuart rips into NRL player managers after Bateman exit
“They are paying him for this season, so they may as well use him. They don’t want to cut off their nose to spite their face in a year they can win a premiership.
“But it’s a lesson for the club and it’s a lesson for everybody about being careful who you deal with”
The Englishman is a free agent next season and is considering a three-year offer from the Bulldogs or 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.