“Ryan has continually maintained that the reasons behind his departure will remain confidential and this will continue.”
But Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe responded strongly to the Eels on Sunday afternoon, maintaining numerous people at the club were aware of Matterson’s comment.
Pascoe also made it clear the Tigers were still irked by the manner of Matterson’s departure from the Tigers.
“We’re really proud of the direction this club is taking and we will always pay homage and respect to the players who have worn the Wests’ Tigers jersey in the past and made it the brand it is today,” Pascoe said. “If people want to act disrespectfully and walk out on their contracts and teammates early, that’s their choice.
“Ryan walked out early and while we’ve never been entirely sure why he did what he did, we also haven’t given him or what he did to us much thought since.”
The Eels declined to respond to Pascoe’s comments.
Thursday night’s clash at Bankwest Stadium will have plenty of extra feeling now Matterson’s extraordinary exit has made headlines again. The Tigers also expect another one of their former players who now wears the blue and gold, Mitch Moses, to return from a calf injury.
Matterson was sorely missed for the Eels as they went down to Manly on Saturday night, while the Tigers are desperate to build on their 48-0 victory over the busted-up Broncos.
If people want to act disrespectfully and walk out on their contracts and teammates early, that’s their choice.
Wests Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe
Parramatta belted the Tigers during an Easter Monday mauling last year, while they also ruined Benji Marshall’s 300th later in the season.
Matterson first addressed his Tigers’ exit at the start of the year when he said: “I did give my all in 2019 in every single game, and to all the fans out there I’m sorry with how it happened. I wish them all the best.”
He always maintained his departure had nothing to do with money nor a run-in with coach Michael Maguire.
Former Tigers favourite Robbie Farah made his thoughts on the situation known when he told an NRL.com podcast last year: “I love Matto, he’s a great guy. [But] the way it has been handled, it’s been quite poor from him and his management. He’s probably worth more than he is on. But you signed a contract. Honour your contract.”
Matterson refused to attend an end-of-season bowls days with the players last year and then took a pot shot at the Tigers last month on social media for allowing Corey Thompson to join the Gold Coast Titans.
“Players’ player last year and they didn’t want to use you this year,” wrote Matterson, followed by the raised eyebrows emoji.
Marshall had no desire to be drawn into a slanging match, saying after the Broncos blowout: “Matto is a great player, he’s still a good mate of mine, but [Thursday] has got nothing to do with Matto. We need the two points again.
“If you work hard at training you get results and, honestly, he’s one of the hardest workers I’ve seen at training. I can understand why he’s added so much to them. And he’s a leader.
“In an ideal world you always want it to be rosy and good. But he did what he felt was best for him, and that’s OK. You can’t bag anyone for doing that. He’s going well. Good luck to him.”
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.