Raiders coach Ricky Stuart says he’s proud of the way Canberra held their ground over losing a star player and didn’t let their club be ruined like the Warriors.
On the back of losing star second-rower John Bateman – rated the best edge forward in the NRL last year – for the 2021 season, Stuart launched a scathing attack on the Englishman’s manager Isaac Moses.
“The last thing we are going to be is a club such as the Broncos or Warriors where they’ve been ruined by agitation and manipulation of the roster,” Stuart told the Sydney Morning Herald on Tuesday.
Warriors players’ Kodi Nikorima, Adam Blair, Blake Green and Gerard Beale are all represented by the controversial agent as are recently sacked coach Stephen Kearney and new interim coach Todd Payten.
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The Brisbane Broncos have at least six players and their under-fire coach Anthony Seibold who are represented by Moses’ company Cove Agency.
Moses is currently appealing the NRL’s decision to cancel his registration over a 2017 incident when he assisted former client and Parramatta prop Tim Mannah to “give evidence to the NRL that was false and intended to mislead an investigation of the NRL Integrity and Compliance Unit”.
In the last year, the Warriors have unsuccessfully chased Broncos players and Cove clients Matt Lodge and Jake Turpin and many Warriors fans have raised the idea that Moses was simply using the club to bump up his clients’ value.
Stuart isn’t alone in his claims about Moses alleged manipulation of the roster.
“Warriors officials are keen to dilute his (Moses) hold over the club and it was one of many factors that were considered in the sacking of Stephen Kearney, a decision that cost the trans-Tasman outfit a more than $1 million,” Sydney Morning Herald chief rugby league reporter Adrian Proszenko wrote last week.
Stuart said he has respect for Bateman but is unhappy with the way the contract negotiations played out and claims they were disrespectful to Raiders chief executive Don Furner.
Bateman signed with Canberra for the 2019 and 2020 season with a player option for 2021 under his English manager but changed agents to link with Moses last year.
“We offered him a very good deal last year to his English manager and then his new manager. It was a very, very good offer. To then hear, ‘you’re getting closer’ was disrespectful to the club and Don, and from that day on I knew we wouldn’t be keeping John,” Stuart told the Sydney Morning Herald.
It has been widely reported that Bateman, who is currently sidelined with a shoulder injury, remains on around A$600,000 a year with the Raiders but Moses felt he could secure the former Wigan player a much more lucrative deal.
It is understood the Raiders upped their deal to A$750,000 for 2021 but did not get an answer by Furner’s deadline of Tuesday after allowing him to test the open market back in March.
“I understand it’s a business and you need to make decisions.
“It’s just how it’s been done that’s disappointed me,” Stuart told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“There are managers who need to have a higher degree of integrity and respect for clubs because there are so many good blokes out there who are managers and take their players’ welfare into consideration highly, and they’re getting tarred with the same brush as a few others who I believe are disrespecting the position of being a manager.”
Stuart also urged the NRL to look into the way the system works.
“I feel the NRL need to help clubs in regards to how we have to deal with certain managers over the way they agitate clubs and manipulate communications and negotiations,” Stuart told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Bateman has been strongly linked with a move home to Wigan in 2021 but has also been linked to NRL clubs with the Bulldogs seemingly his most likely option.