John Bateman’s departure is just wrong: now the NRL must act on player managers

Tim Gavel 1 July 2020 15
John Bateman. Photo: Supplied.

John Bateman was one of the best players in the NRL in his first season. Photo: Supplied.

When John Bateman arrived in Canberra for the pre-season in the lead up to the 2019 competition he appeared incredibly grateful to be given an opportunity to show his wares in the NRL.

He spoke of his tough upbringing in Northern England and how rugby league had offered him a better life. He also made it clear it was hard being away from his daughter, Millie, and his family, who were back in England.

Bateman went on to become one of the best players in the NRL in his first year with the Green Machine. He was a key member of a side that went so close to winning the 2019 premiership.

As proof of his impact, he was named NRL Second Rower of the Year. Heady times indeed, and it seemed that a long career with the Raiders beckoned.

The warning signs that the journey ahead would not be as smooth as the Raiders would have hoped came in the week leading up to the grand final.

As media descended on Canberra to speak with the players prior to the decider, Bateman told that he would have to weigh up his options if the Raiders couldn’t improve on his current deal.

He backtracked by saying he wanted to stay in Canberra, but in the minds of many Raiders supporters, the damage had been done and the warning signs were ominous.

Despite being contracted until the end of season 2021, there was buzz earlier this year that he was looking to walk out on the Raiders.

As speculation mounted, so did Bateman’s protestations that he wasn’t going anywhere.

The Raiders, for their part, upped their offer. But again, the speculation had become a distraction.

Then the Raiders allowed him to see what other offers were available from clubs in both the NRL and the English Super League. Sick and tired of the constant destabilising chatter, Raiders management gave him a deadline and forced the issue.

Which is how we got to where we are now: Bateman and the Raiders have announced that he will be leaving the club at the end of the season.

His destination remains unclear. It could be the Bulldogs, the Dragons, or he could return to the Wigan Warriors. For the Raiders and their supporters, this is an unceremonious end to the saga.

So how did it get to this point?

The role of player managers and their ability to hijack a season has to be addressed urgently by the NRL. Bateman’s epic is a perfect example of the process at its worst.

How is it that a player-manager has become as crucial to a club’s success as the player himself? It’s obvious that Bateman wouldn’t have made the comment that he did in the lead up to the Grand Final without external advice.

Ricky Stuart was absolutely justified in his attack on Bateman’s manager, Isaac Moses, and the role he’s played. It’s not the first time the Raiders have been on the receiving end of player-managers doing their best to destabilise the club.

Hopefully, if the NRL acts to stop protracted negotiations mid-season, it will be the last time we see it.

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15 Responses to John Bateman’s departure is just wrong: now the NRL must act on player managers
Bella Rose Bella Rose 6:14 pm 04 Jul 20

As sad as it is he wants to be with his family I respect that

Billy Buyer Billy Buyer 5:29 am 04 Jul 20

Good let him go, he will only poison the club and players if he says around.

Steve Kearsley Steve Kearsley 2:51 am 04 Jul 20

Well done Wigan for bringing him home, Raiders stop nicking our young players develop your own! 🍒⚪️

    Janet Hanson Janet Hanson 11:39 pm 04 Jul 20

    Steve Kearsley Bradford lads off back home.. from a Bradford lass in Australia.

Kerry Mulgrue Kerry Mulgrue 9:06 am 02 Jul 20

Simply change the by-laws so that any negotiations for changing clubs can only occur between the GF and six weeks before the start of the next season. Also, have a loyalty clause in the salary caps whereby players who either have progressed through a club's academy system or have been with the club for more than 5 years are not part of the salary cap.

David Woods David Woods 7:19 am 02 Jul 20

Greedy and ungrateful your not that good mate

Andrew Dimpel Andrew Dimpel 4:22 am 02 Jul 20

That a fair comment about these mangers, who are dealings with NRL players. Can’t the players in question make these decisions, for themselves.

Joanne Clark Joanne Clark 6:07 pm 01 Jul 20

Simple - enforce a trading period outside season. Any one caught not complying they won't have that contract recognized for the applicable season. And the players manager gets a big fine (in the thousands) which goes to the players club nominated charity or junior support system.

Rowan Hartcher Rowan Hartcher 4:41 pm 01 Jul 20

Go bull dogs

    Bella Rose Bella Rose 6:15 pm 04 Jul 20

    Rowan Hartcher nope dude knocked them back to go home a good decision I think

Proboscus Proboscus 12:32 pm 01 Jul 20

Good riddance.

The Raiders and Bateman had a 3 year deal which Bateman was happy with until he changed managers.

The Raiders were within their right to keep him on the original contract (see The Last Dance on Netflix where Pippen couldn’t get out of a contract).

Then Bateman started bleating about the contract during Grand Final week – the biggest week for the Raiders in 25 years. Grubby tactics.

Yet the Raiders were willing to upgrade Bateman’s contract – to something around $850,000. Bateman said “No”.

Ricky has been trying to build a team culture since he returned to the Raiders – and he’s done a fantastic job. As I said at the start – Good riddance.

    chewy14 chewy14 3:49 pm 01 Jul 20

    The Raiders werent going to bump him to anywhere near $850k.

    Try around $600k.

    Proboscus Proboscus 5:19 pm 01 Jul 20

    My mail is very good and he knocked back $850K.

    Anyway, he’s gone now and the disloyal grub is someone else’s problem.

    bj_ACT bj_ACT 8:24 pm 01 Jul 20

    Bateman was already on $580k and Raiders offered $750k in an upgrade that Bateman and his manager turned down. Good on Raiders for standing firm against a greedy player manager.

    chewy14 chewy14 9:48 pm 01 Jul 20

    He was signed on a 3 year deal for $350-$400k.

    After last year, he wanted $800k+ which the Raiders couldn’t afford but he was going to receive $580k this year up to $600k next year.

    I know they offered him a lot more last year but that was last year. No one is paying those sort of dollars at the moment and the rumoured Bulldogs deal if it happens is only around $650-$700k a year.

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