The tumultuous future of Canberra Raiders backrower John Bateman has taken another turn after head coach Ricky Stuart accepted his prized jewel could be off at seasons end.
The confusing saga of John Bateman's future in the nation's capital seems to be settled as Raiders coach Ricky Stuart admitted that the English backrower's future could be elsewhere.
“It’s a part of the business, it’s a very challenging time at the moment because John is a big part of the family,” said Stuart.
“I have a great relationship with John and we don’t want to lose him.
“...Don [Furner - Raiders CEO] has already said that he has been given the opportunity to test the market because he and his manager are after a bigger payday.”
Though the 2019 Dally M second-rower of the year has publicly said across social media that he wants to stay in Canberra but family concerns are the main priority.
"...It doesn’t mean I want to leave, but you look into it. I’m sitting here with my fingers crossed hoping something does change at Canberra", Bateman said whilst speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald.
"When I’m 45 and struggling to stand up, or trying to put my daughter through university, no one is going to ring me and say, 'you know that extra few hundred grand you were hoping to get? We’ve got it for you now'.
"She's my girl. That's who I wake up every day for. That's the reason I go to work, to give her the best life possible."
"I thought I had a pretty good year last year and Canberra said 'yeah, you went pretty well, but we don’t really have much for you in 2021'," Bateman said.
“It’s an awful look all the way around,” NSW head coach Brad Fittler said whilst speaking on Nine's Freddy and the Eighth.
“If you have to go and ask for 800, you’re not worth 800. If you’re getting 800, clubs are giving it to you, they’re asking you to come to their club. It’s a bad look. Bad look."
Co-pundit Andrew Johns supported his colleague's sentiments and suggested the situation is being handled poorly.
"I just think it's rotten. But it works both ways", Johns said.
"If you sign a contract as a player, you play out your contract where you've signed.
"But also as a club, you take the gamble and sign a player to a long-term contract and something happens where they lose form, they lose interest, they have a fallout with someone, too bad.
"You've signed a contract."
Bateman has been linked with Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and coach Dean Pay has already suggested the club are interested in securing one of the code's premier backrowers.
"He's a quality player, we're always interested in really good quality players and he's one of those," Pay told NRL Tonight.
"There's been a fair bit of media speculation around him but we're always interested in good players."