Matterson denies Eels move was about money

Pamela Whaley
18th man Ryan Matterson (L) passes the ball to James Tedesco during NSW Blues State of Origin camp

Ryan Matterson has spoken for the first time since his messy exit from the Wests Tigers at the end of 2019, adamant that money played no part in walking away from his contract two years early.

On Monday, the 25-year-old declined to go in to details about why he walked away from the Tigers to join the Eels on a three-year-contract, citing personal reasons that were out of his control.

"I was frustrated when it was perceived to be about money, because that wasn't the case," he said.

"When people want to be making rumours about things, I can't really control that.

"All I can control is I said it was going to be a personal matter between myself and the club, and I'm going to respect that so I'm going to hold up my side of the bargain."

Matterson joined the Tigers on a three-year-deal from the Roosters for the 2019 season, but was at the club for less than 12 months after a reported falling out with coach Michael Maguire.

He denied the two have a frosty relationship, and said both he and Maguire reached out to each other with best wishes for the new year.

At the time, it was reported Matterson was seeking a pay rise after playing the best season of his career to land on the verge of State of Origin selection.

After being granted leave from training, he was then released to join the Eels on a reported $1.5 million deal.

Matterson said he had not considered whether his reputation has taken a hit after the ordeal, but says he understands the frustration of Tigers fans who expected him to see out his contract.

"Obviously I signed wanting to uphold my contract, but like I said, I'm not leaving in a frustrated manner because in the 2019 season I played my best football every single game for the Tigers," he said.

"I do say sorry to them and I understand their frustration, but it was out of my control."

Matterson, now a second-rower, had left the Eels in 2016 to join the Roosters after the club signed Kieran Foran, blocking his path to the halves.

He said an honest conversation with Eels coach Brad Arthur convinced him to return to Parramatta to try and create history in 2020.

"Previously we've been together, and from that chat I realised that the club itself has grown massively," he said.

"There's a big opportunity for myself and all the players here to create history and I really wanted to get on board with that."