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James Hooper has stood by his story that suggested John Bateman’s management has been agitating for a release from the Raiders since the 2019 Grand Final week.
Bateman took issue with Hooper’s reporting in a heated Twitter post, but Hooper refused to back down from his reports.
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“I’ve got the utmost respect for John Bateman as a player and I don’t think the Raiders make the grand final last year without him,” Hooper said on Triple M.
“But I’m also a big fan of putting the sssshhh in Twitter, Shitter because it is a sewer social media full of toxic rubbish.
“John is well within his rights to have his say on there, but I stand by the story.
“His agent Isaac Moses has been repeatedly at the Canberra Raiders agitating for a release since the grand final last season.
“He wasn’t his agent when he signed with the Canberra Raiders. As a result I don’t think John Bateman will be at the Raiders next year.”
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Hooper believes there are two clubs leading the race for Bateman’s signature next season.
“The Bulldogs and the Dragons are the two teams that are having a strong look at John and would love to get him there for next season,” Hooper said.
“It surprised me that Bateman was looking for a release, but if you go back to last year’s grand final he actually did a story that created a number of headlines at the time, where he pointed out he had changed manager and was going to have a look around even though he was signed until the end of 2021.”
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Hooper believes Moses is driving Bateman’s push to test his value on the open market.
“He is at the centre of everything one hundred per cent,” Hooper said.
“John was signed with an English agent and then Isaac acquired John in the lead up to the grand final.
“When you are contracted until the end of 2021 I wouldn’t have thought that is the ideal time to make that statement in grand final week.
“The reporter that wrote that story went back to John and said are you sure you want this to go on the record in grand final week? And he said yeah absolutely.
“Then when he won the Dally M Second-rower of the year award he said the story wasn’t accurate and he was taken out of context.
“In relation to Twitter he is more than entitled to go as hard as he wants there is no issue there. That’s life. “But I reckon he is ducking and diving a little bit.
“He certainly should be aware that his agent has been making all sorts of moves behind the scenes and in all likelihood John Bateman won’t be at the Raiders next year.
“It is sad because they don’t make the grand final without him last season. Ricky Stuart and Don Furner have done such a good job to get this core group of players together from England and they have a chance to win a premiership.
“But he has had outside influences in his ear telling him he is worth more money than the $600,000 mark, which he is on, which is damn good money.”
Hooper first reported that Bateman’s management had approached the Raiders four times since the 2019 Grand Final about a release.
The report prompted Bateman to unload on social media, insulting Hooper and declaring his original report was untrue.
“Never once have I asked for a release, bull—-,” Bateman said on Twitter.
Following Bateman’s response, Hooper confirmed the England international had been given permission to meet with rival teams, according to Canberra boss Don Furner.
“Yes, it’s true,” Furner said.
“We’ve given John permission to test his value on the open market. That’s all I’ll say on the matter.”
However Bateman maintains neither himself or his management had asked for a release.
“Like I said yesterday, never once have I asked for a release, neither has my management,” Bateman said on Twitter.
“Canberra gave me permission to talk to other clubs months ago because they’re tight on the cap next year and have nothing for me from 2022 onwards.
“I have a renegotiation clause in my deal for every year, that’s why we are working through it.
“I love the Raiders and want to be here. So settles yourselves down and let’s get talking about the season starting back up.”