NRL 2020: John Bateman Canberra Raiders contract twist

Canberra chief executive Don Furner has confirmed star forward John Bateman has been given permission to field offers from rival clubs despite remaining contracted through to the end of the 2021 NRL season.

Furner’s comments come after Bateman broke his silence on his ongoing contract saga over the weekend, denying reports he has on four occasions asked to be released from his Raiders contract.

Follow up reports claim Bateman’s manager Isaac Moses has requested releases for his client since grand final week last year when Bateman’s contract situation was first brought to light.

The 26-year-old is reportedly halfway through a unique four-year deal with the Raiders that allows him to renegotiate the financial terms of the contract at the end of every season.

After a breakthrough season where he was awarded the Dally M Second-Rower of the Year Award, The Daily Telegraph reports Bateman’s manager wants a contract upgrade worth around $800,000 per season — a significant upgrade on the $600,000 he is scheduled to earn in 2021 under the terms of his Raiders contract.

The prickly situation exploded on Friday night when Bateman angrily hit out at Fox Sports reporter James Hooper over the first report of his release requests.

“You better stick to polishing that bald head big fella because your (poo emoji) at being a journo. Never once have I asked for a release. Bullshit story #fakenews,” he posted on Twitter.

Bateman refused to back away from the comment in interviews with The Daily Telegraph and Sydney Morning Herald on Sunday.

John Bateman has his hands full.Source:Getty Images

The reports indicate Furner has already told Bateman the club has accepted that it is not in a position to match some of the rich deals Bateman is expected to receive from rival clubs this year.

Despite remaining contracted until the end of 2021, Bateman is now expected to leave the club at the end of 2020.

Bateman, however, claims he wants to stay at the Raiders long term.

“If I wanted to ask for a release, I could have done,” Bateman told smh.com.au.

“I don’t want to leave. I want to extend. I’ve never once asked for a release. I told Isaac, ‘Listen, don’t rush into anything because I’m not in any rush’.”

The Daily Telegraph’s Phil Rothfield revealed a twist on Saturday night in a segment on Fox League, revealing the Raiders would be prepared to up their offer towards Bateman’s reported $800,000 salary demands — if the star player and his agent were prepared to extend his deal beyond 2021.

He reports Bateman and Moses do not want to sign a long-term deal.

“I think Canberra would be more than happy to upgrade him, but they want an extension,” Rothfield said.

“At this stage, Isaac Moses has knocked that back.”

WESTS TIGERS APPROACH FOLAU

Israel Folau hasn’t been forgotten.Source:Getty Images

Israel Folau was reportedly sounded out over a possible return to the NRL with Wests Tigers.

The Sydney rugby league club was said to have put out the feelers to see if the former Wallabies star would be interested in returning to Australia but were told it was not an option for the 31-year-old.

However, the club did not make a formal offer, the report says. “Wests Tigers were just feeling out the situation. It didn’t go too far and nothing will come of it,” a source close to Folau was quoted as saying by The Daily Telegraph.

Folau is said to prefer remaining in France with Super League club Catalans, whose president Bernard Guasch has said he expects Folau to sign a new one-year deal with the Perpignan-based club.

The former dual-code international, sacked by Rugby Australia last year for controversially posting religious tweets which some found offensive, has also rejected approaches from French rugby union clubs, including Top 14 outfit Montpellier.

— AAP

RAIDERS FALL FLAT ON FREE TO AIR

Canberra have learned the hard way that success doesn’t always pay, their free- to-air television games slashed from eight to three in the revised NRL draw. Riding high after reaching last year’s grand final, the Raiders were given their most free-to-air exposure in a decade in the original 2020 draw. However, the revised schedule has forced a rethink, with the loss of six rounds and broadcasters having slightly more influence given the lack of crowds and competition stoppage.

It means Canberra aren’t guaranteed a game on Nine after round 10, with the possibility of playing no home games on TV at their own GIO Stadium. Canberra have long been frustrated by a lack of free-to-air time as they fall out of the five-city ratings market, but had been relieved to finally be rewarded last November.

Raiders boss Don Furner claimed at the time that the extra exposure would earn future financial rewards with increased sponsorship value on jerseys. It comes after the club was handed the toughest travel itinerary in the NRL on the competition’s restart, asked to play their home games in Campbelltown. The south-west Sydney ground is 230km north of their normal base, with the club weighing up whether they are better off flying to “home matches”. Manly and the Warriors are among the other big losers when it comes to TV exposure in the draw.

John Bateman and Nick Cotric will get just three games on Nine.Source:News Regional Media

After moving across the Tasman to ensure the commencement of the campaign, the Warriors will appear on Nine just once in the regular season. And even then those who have jumped on the Warriors’ bandwagon will have to wait until round 17 when the play Parramatta to see them on free-to-air TV. The Sea Eagles also suffered a reduced free-to-air television schedule, with their games dropping from 11 to six.

In comparison, the likes of Brisbane and Parramatta have 15 and 13 free-to-air games each.

NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo claimed this year’s discrepancies were also a result of the desire to schedule blockbusters to relaunch the season. “It’s really complex because it’s made up on a number of factors,” Abdo said. “This year is really different because we wanted to focus on giving fans blockbusters at the start of the year and we have been able to achieve that.” Brisbane’s free-to-air games are all on the high-rating Thursday and Friday nights, with the club not scheduled for a day game in the regular season. South Sydney have 12 free-to-air games and the Roosters 11.

All figures are based only on the Thursday, Friday and Sunday afternoon fixtures.

It is possible Nine could regain its Saturday night simulcast of the 7.30pm game in the final six rounds when a new TV deal is signed.

If that is the case, the Roosters would pick up an additional three free-to-air games.

One of those would be against Canberra, taking the Raiders’ tally to four. Meanwhile, the NRL has introduced a Sunday night prime time slot for the first nine rounds to replace the 2pm game.

EACH NRL CLUB’S FREE-TO-AIR TELEVISION COUNT

Brisbane: 15

Parramatta: 13

Melbourne, South Sydney: 12

Sydney Roosters: 11

Newcastle: 9

North Queensland, Penrith: 8

St George Illawarra: 7

Manly, Wests Tigers: 6

Canterbury: 5

Canberra, Cronulla: 3

Gold Coast, Warriors: 1

*Excludes yet-to-be-confirmed Channel Nine Saturday night simulcast in final six rounds.

— AAP

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