Canberra put a deadline on the 26-year-old about signing an extension in a bid to end speculation about his future and Stuart has taken aim at the way Moses conducted the negotiations.
In rare public comments Moses, who represents Cameron Smith and more than 50 other NRL players and coaches, responded on Wednesday, standing by how he represented Bateman.
“On 24 February I met with [Canberra CEO] Don Furner, Ricky Stuart and John in Canberra to discuss John’s future at the Raiders,” Moses said in a statement sent to the Herald. “At that meeting Don advised the club were in salary cap trouble. 2021 was very tight and they were in the process of trying to re-sign other players in addition to John. 2022 was worse, they weren’t going to be able to afford him at all.
“After that meeting, on 11 March I received an email from Don giving permission for John to talk to other clubs as the Raiders weren’t in a position to accommodate him long term.
“To Don’s credit, he always said he didn’t want to stand in John’s way should he wish to look at other opportunities for the betterment of his young family.
“He made it clear the club isn’t in the habit of letting good players go, but was honest about the difficulties of managing their roster off the back of a grand final, with unanticipated Origin bonuses to also factor in.”
Moses’s own future as one of the game’s most powerful player agents is in jeopardy after the NRL last month announced an intention to cancel his registration, finding he had breached the terms of his accreditation by “procuring and assisting” a client, former Eels front-rower Tim Mannah, to give false evidence to an integrity unit investigation.
The manager, who is appealing that sanction, claims he has been unfairly targeted over Bateman’s pending exit from the Raiders.
“I respect Ricky Stuart. He was a great player and is a great coach. He wears his heart on his sleeve and is entitled to his opinion like everyone else,” Moses said.
“At the same time, it was Canberra who agreed a clause in John’s current deal to sit down and revisit his salary each year – a contract I had nothing to do with.
“Player movement happens both ways, such is the nature of professional sport. Look around the NRL – in virtually every single team, including the Raiders, there are players who were signed whilst under contract with other clubs.
“When a club decides to move on a player who is under contract it barely gets a mention, but it happens, far more regularly than the other way around.
“A number of head coaches have moved to other clubs mid-contract in recent years for a variety of reasons, of their own accord.”
Moses did not single him out but Stuart is among them, having activated a get-out clause in his deal at Parramatta in 2013 to join Canberra.
Stuart had also made reference to Moses’s influence at other clubs when he said on Tuesday: “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.”
Moses has nine players at the Broncos and four at the Warriors, as well as the coaches of both teams, in his stable.
Moses did not respond specifically to Stuart’s comments about the Warriors and Broncos on Wednesday but added about Bateman: “An announcement on John’s future will be made in time. For now, he is focussed on his rehab [on a shoulder injury] and looking forward to getting back on the field with his teammates.”
Stuart could not be contacted on Wednesday.
Chris Barrett is Chief Sports Reporter of The Sydney Morning Herald.