One of the NRL's biggest contract soap operas has finally reached its conclusion, with confirmation that England back-rower John Bateman will leave the Canberra Raiders at the end of the season.
The Test star told the Raiders on Tuesday morning of his decision to depart with a return home to his former UK club Wigan or a move to Canterbury his most likely options.
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Bateman was a key member of Canberra's run to the grand final last year but is yet to play in 2020 because of a troublesome shoulder injury.
Raiders boss Don Furner said the 26-year-old had decided to leave after being given permission to seek other opportunities, with the club unable to upgrade his contract due to salary cap constraints.
"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 in a statement.
"We're looking forward to John returning from his shoulder injury soon and finishing his time by helping us make the semi-finals 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."
Bateman's future has been the subject of intense speculation throughout the year, with the Englishman forced to deny reports he was angling for a move away earlier in the season.
Bateman denies sending tweet about club boss
The Englishman took aim at a report from The Daily Telegraph's James Hooper in May that claimed he wanted a release from the club.
He was also forced to deny writing a foul-mouthed spray that was posted from his personal Twitter account, criticising Raiders CEO Furner.
“Yeah well Don is a d***head too. And I only asked for a release once, no (sic) 4 times like cueball (Hooper) suggested. They are full of (poo emoji). #DitchDon," the post read.
Bateman claimed at the time that someone had hacked his social media account.
"I swear it wasn't me. I haven't got a clue where it came from. Someone has tried to set me up," Bateman told The Daily Telegraph of the above post.
"I even Googled 'how do you make a fake tweet' when it was brought to my attention to find out how it could happen. I'd never say anything like that about Don. I like him."
Bateman thanked the Raiders and said he was doing all he could to return to the field this year.
He's believed to be at least a month away.
"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."
with Yahoo Sports staff