Canberra are bracing themselves for the potential that superstar import John Bateman could seek a release from his deal, with the Englishman admitting he will sit down with the club in the off-season to discuss his salary.
NRL.com spoke to Bateman in the nation's capital on Tuesday ahead of this weekend's grand final against the Sydney Roosters, with the Raiders back-rower conceding he was likely to consider his options in the off-season if he was unable to gain an upgrade.
Bateman still has two more years to run on his deal with the Raiders, but recently acquired the services of player manager Isaac Moses.
Bateman's deal with the Raiders is worth between $350,000 and $400,000 – with the 26-year-old likely to attract double that money if he was granted permission to negotiate with rival NRL clubs.
The Raiders have salary cap limitations for next season and may not be in a position – nor are they obligated – to bump up the back-rower's deal.
"I've got a new agent over here, I'm with Isaac Moses," Bateman told NRL.com when asked about speculation his services had been offered to rival clubs.
"I don't know where Canberra are at with their salary cap. 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.
"But Canberra is the most important thing to me this week, and once this gets out of the way we'll sit down with Canberra and my agent will do what he will have to do, he will do his job. Going forward we'll just go from there."
Canberra are aware of rumblings around Bateman's future and have been privately concerned after Bateman linked with Moses.
The Raiders have invested plenty of time into Bateman this year, but also forked out £200,000 transfer fee to Wigan to lure him to the NRL from the Super League.
"Of course we want to keep him," Canberra chief executive Don Furner said.
"We'll enjoy the grand final and get through this week and then we’ll worry about sitting down with John after that."
The Raiders have shown in the past they are willing to stand their ground with players seeking more money elsewhere, forcing Anthony Milford to stick around for another season before he joined the Brisbane Broncos on a million-dollar-a-season deal.
Bateman has been a revelation at the Raiders since joining the club in the offseason, forming a close bond with coach Ricky Stuart.
But the Englishman said Stuart and the club were aware of his predicament.
"I owe Stick [Stuart] a lot," Bateman said
"He's took me in and looked after me. He's been a father figure to me, mate. When my family has been away he's been the man I've gone to, sat there and cried to. He's taken me in and looked after me. He's a great bloke and I'm really grateful for what he's done for me.
Bateman back with a bang
"But I need to do what's best for my family. They know that. My little girl, I want to give her the best opportunities and life and I'll see what those opportunities are. I don't know where Canberra is at with what people are coming and going but we'll sort it out after the season.
"You've got to earn as much money in your career as you can mate, I won't lie to you. She's so young and I need to give her the best opportunities in life. Whatever they are I will do because that's what's most important to me – my family."
Bateman, who moved away from his daughter and family when agreeing to join the Raiders, has arguably been one of the top 10 players in the NRL in 2019 and has been nominated for the Dally M back-rower of the year award ahead of Wednesday night's celebrations in Sydney.
Tickets for the NRL Telstra Premiership Grand Final 2019 are now on sale to the general public.