After plenty of rumours surrounding John Bateman’s future at the Raiders, the club has officially confirmed he will depart Canberra at the end of the 2020 season.
Bateman came across from Wigan last year and signed a three-year deal in Canberra, but with the parties unable to reach an extension, the Raiders granted him permission to seek a new club for next season.
In a statement released today, Canberra Raiders CEO Don Furner spoke highly of Bateman and was looking forward to seeing him return to the playing field.
“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,” Furner said.
“We’re looking forward to John returning from his shoulder injury soon and finishing his time by helping us make the semifinals 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.”
The rumour mill was set alight last month when James Hooper first reported that Bateman had requested a leave from the Raiders four times and was looking for more money on his contract.
Bateman rubbished those reports with a series of tweets attacking Hooper and, while he may not have requested a release, there was clearly some truth to the story.
Bateman has endured a tough time this season after two bouts of shoulder surgery have seen him unable to play a game.
Despite the difficult start to the year, Bateman said he wanted to finish his time at the Raiders on a high.
“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.
“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.”
It is believed NRL clubs the Canterbury Bulldogs and St George Illawarra Dragons are interested in signing Bateman, while he has also attracted interest from his old Super League club Wigan, in a possible return home to be closer to his family.