An explosive war of words has erupted between the Wests Tigers and Parramatta Eels over an alleged insult made by Ryan Matterson ahead of the two sides meeting on Thursday night.
Matterson debuted with the Roosters in 2016 before joining the Tigers in 2019 on a three-year contract. However, he quit the club after just one season — during which he was twice named 18th man for NSW in the State of Origin series.
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The back-rower has refused to explain why he left the Tigers to join Parramatta on a three-year, $1.5 million contract. He has only said he departed for “personal” reasons but speculation has raged he didn’t get along with Wests coach Michael Maguire, who has a reputation for being a hard task-master.
Last year Tigers legend Robbie Farah took a shot at Matterson for failing to honour his contract and said the way the 25-year-old handled his tumultuous exit was “quite poor from him and his management”.
Earlier this week the Sydney Morning Herald quoted a Tigers insider as saying Matterson told the club: “You will never win a grand final – I want out.”
But the Eels hit back yesterday as Matterson denied ever making the comment.
(2 of 2)We are disappointed that they were originally raised publicly behind the veil of an anonymous source and without an initial opportunity to provide a response. Ryan has continually maintained that the reasons behind his departure from the Tigers will remain confidential.
Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe has since added fuel to the fire, taking a swipe at Matterson’s “disrespect” of the joint-venture club ahead of this week’s grudge match.
“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 told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“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.”
Rugby league legend Laurie Daley said the Tigers would be using Matterson’s alleged “slur” as motivation for their upcoming clash.
“If someone’s left your club and they don’t believe that they can win a competition there, basically it’s a slur on the playing group and the coaches that, ‘They can’t take me to where I want to get and I want to win a premiership’,” Daley said on the Big Sports Breakfast.
“He’s denying that but if the Tigers are saying that they’d be using that for motivation this week for sure.”
Ryan Matterson wanted out of the Tigers two years before his contract expired.Source:AAP
Daily Telegraph rugby league reporter Phil Rothfield criticised Matterson for the way he left the Tigers, saying this spat could have been avoided had he been honest about his reasons for leaving and clarified whether he didn’t want to play under Maguire.
“A lot of people are filthy at the way Ryan Matterson left the Wests Tigers,” Rothfield said on the Big Sports Breakfast.
“He got an opportunity at that club after he left the Roosters, he went over there and agreed to a $350,000-a-year contract and he played very well … then he decided he was worth more money.
“So he just took himself off to Parramatta. I don’t know if he got along with Madge (Maguire), I don’t think he enjoyed footy under Madge.
“I think there are better ways to exit the club than he did. I think he did the wrong thing by the Wests Tigers.
“He should have sat down with them and said, ‘Look, I think I’m worth more than what I’m on, how about I extend a year and you bump me up for the next few?’
“I think it was really, really wrong how he left that club.”
The Tigers are coming off a thumping 48-0 win over the Broncos on Friday night while Parramatta lost to Manly 22-18 on Saturday.
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