Canberra star John Bateman has hurled a string of personal insults at a rugby league journalist over claims the back-rower has been granted permission to negotiate with rival clubs.
The 26-year-old England international was a revelation for the Green Machine in 2019 after landing in Canberra on a three-year deal.
Bateman quickly developed a reputation for playing above his weight in his maiden NRL season.
And on Friday night he angrily responded to a report from Fox Sports journalist James Hooper claiming the Raiders star has repeatedly requested permission to test his value on the open market.
“You better stick to polishing that bald head big fella because your (sic) (poo emoji) at being a journo,” Bateman tweeted at Hooper.
“Never once have I asked for a release. Bulls*** story.”
— John Bateman (@johnbateman1) May 22, 2020
Hooper claims rival NRL clubs have told him they received phone calls from player agent Isaac Moses on the player’s behalf.
Bateman caused a stir last October with comments he made shortly after signing on with Moses.
“I’ve got a new agent over here, I’m with Isaac Moses,” Bateman told NRL.com at the time.
“While I’m over here mate, I have to do what’s best for me and best for my family.
“Moving forward I’ll just have to weigh up my options and see what’s there.”
The former Bradford and Wigan forward was previously represented by an English manager.
Rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns led the chorus of outrage over Bateman’s comments, which have fuelled ongoing speculation over his future.
“The timing of this stinks and the players have to understand, they employ the player managers, the player managers don’t employ them,” Johns said in October.
“If you don’t agree with what they say, hang up on them and tell them to beat it.
“This stinks. This stinks so bad.”
Bateman’s current deal, which expires at the end of 2021, is worth around $600,000 a season.
Hooper claims the 2019 Dally M second-rower of the year is reportedly seeking a 25 percent pay rise, either from the Raiders or an NRL rival.
The Raiders on Friday tweeted comments from coach Ricky Stuart denying the Fox report.
“I speak to John daily and I know he’s fully committed to our club and he can’t wait to get back on the field,” Stuart said.
“I speak to John daily and I know he’s fully committed to our club and he can’t wait to get back on the field.”
— Canberra Raiders (@RaidersCanberra) May 22, 2020
Bateman will miss Saturday’s season return against Melbourne as he continues to recover from shoulder surgery.