There was a brief ruffling of feathers with the news that John Bateman had switched managerial allegiances to Isaac Moses and would be ‘weigh up his options’ in the off-season. This was first reported by Michael Chammas at nrl.com and also discussed on NRL360.
In reality this is a nothing story. It only matters because it’s grand final week. I “ummed” and “ahhhed” about writing about it, but the timing of the release annoyed me so much I decided to put something down.
In short it’s saddening approach from Bateman’s management. Take a high profile moment, milk it for all its worth in order to create leverage. Bateman is just a pawn in all this.
The reality is that Bateman is going nowhere. He’ll ask for an upgrade this offseason and likely be given one. This would have occured regardless of this leak. It’s size will depend on how negotiations go with Jordan Rapana, and whether BJ Leilua and Aidan Sezer are able to find the time and money they desire elsewhere. Bateman will serve out his contract at Canberra. Bateman said as much in a tweet following the article.
In reality he has no option but to stay in Canberra for the foreseeable future. He can’t leave unless the Raiders release him, which, as they showed with Anthony Milford, is not something they’ll do. Bateman could ‘kick stones’ as Paull Kent said, but that seems an anathema to him.
Which is really the shame of this. Bateman has been such a revelation this year, as a character as much as a player. He was already going to get money thrown at him, both now and over time from the Raiders, and then with the big money contract in two years. His management has instead has tried to leverage the good standing he has into the pretence of making a difference. They wanted to show they mattered in getting him more cash when the likelihood is all they’ve done is make Canberrans raise an eyebrow at the worst time.
Sidebar: Some have even argued this is about the current management getting access to the commission of a new contract, rather than being excluded from deals already done. I genuinely have no idea if that’s true but it does seem plausible.
At a time when Canberra couldn’t be more positive about the Milk, and about Bateman, his new management has sacrificed a little of capital the client has built with the Canberra community for something that could have resolved without creating noise. They’ve created a distraction for Bateman in the biggest week of his career. They’ve done the precise opposite of someone that cared about John’s future or career would have done.