Tackle Count: John Bateman's departure from Canberra Raiders highlights messy side of NRL

HAPPIER TIMES: John Bateman dashes away to score a try against the Storm during last year's qualifying final. Picture: Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/NRL Imagery
HAPPIER TIMES: John Bateman dashes away to score a try against the Storm during last year's qualifying final. Picture: Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/NRL Imagery

Did the Raiders do the right thing?

How life can change so quickly in sport.

John Bateman arrived with a bang in Canberra ahead of the 2019 season, costing his new club a six-figure transfer fee and a contract worth more than $500,000 a year.

The Englishman made his mark from the start, playing 23 games on his way to helping the Raiders reach the NRL grand final - where they just fell short of winning that elusive premiership. Despite the defeat, it felt like Bateman's potential didn't have a ceiling.

Fast forward to July 2020 and his time in the nation's capital has come to an end.

Despite his season so far being floored by a back injury, Bateman's controversial player manager Isaac Moses has pushed the club for a substantial financial upgrade.

Instead of caving in, the Raiders have shown Bateman the exit door on the last year of his contract to seek a pay rise.

Coach Ricky Stuart has publicly lashed Bateman and Moses for their handling of the situation.

"The NRL needs to help clubs in regards to how we have to deal with certain managers over the way they agitate clubs and manipulate negotiations to suit them and them only," he said.

"It's not always in the best interest of the player. It disappoints me because it's so hard to build a strong roster.

"The last thing we're going to be is a club such as the Broncos or the Warriors where they've been ruined by agitation and the manipulation of [their] roster."

So did Canberra do the right thing? It's too early to make that call. But one thing is for sure. As the Green Machine battle for a spot in the top eight, a fit and firing Bateman would be pretty handy right now.

The Raiders will return home to face the Dragons, who are also looking for another much-needed win.

St George Illawarra were gutsy against the Roosters last week, and rookie halfback Adam Clune has put up his hand to lead the charge again.

"There's no complacency from me, as I definitely want to lockdown the halfback spot," he said.

"I want to play first grade week in, week out and I'm going to do everything to ensure that happens - especially as I had to work so hard to get here. As a half, I've got to be demanding when I want the footy in my hands and direct the boys around but also be conscious of not overplaying my hand."

A number of subplots will feature this week. Can the Broncos finally snap their five-game losing streak? Will the Eels roll the Cowboys without Mitchell Moses? And are Newcastle likely to bounce back from last week's shock defeat in Townsville?

The round kicks off tonight with a blockbuster between the Storm and the high-flying Roosters. Buckle up for another interesting start to the round.

* This edition of Tackle Count was written by Joshua Bartlett.

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This story Bateman's departure was downright messy first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.