Canberra Raiders star John Bateman has attempted to calm speculation about his future despite news emerging he is free to negotiate with rival clubs.
The injured back-rower sent out a statement on Saturday night, saying he hadn't asked for a release from his existing Canberra deal.
But he did confirm he was speaking with other teams about his long-term future, saying salary-cap pressure meant he had to assess his options.
"Like I said yesterday never once have I asked for a release neither has my management," Bateman via a statement on social media.
"Canberra gave me permission to talk to other clubs months ago because they're tight on the [salary] cap next year and have nothing for me from 2022 onwards.
"I have a renegotiation clause in my deal for every year that's why we are working through it. I love the Raiders and want to be here. So settle yourselves down and let's get talking about the season starting back up."
The Raiders slammed reports Bateman was seeking a release from his contract, which doesn't expire until the end of next season, when details first emerged on Fox Sports on Friday.
However there have been rumblings about Bateman's future since grand final week last season, with manager Isaac Moses reportedly chasing a bigger contract for the 26-year-old.
The fallout from the coronavirus pandemic could have a major impact on the NRL salary cap for 2021 and beyond, meaning clubs will be feeling the pinch.
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The Raiders have already lost Luke Bateman and JJ Collins as players weigh up their financial futures, with the latter leaving to find a more secure option to support his young family.
St George Illawarra, Newcastle and Canterbury-Bankstown have emerged as potential landing spots for the English international.
Furner and Moses have been contacted for comment.
The contract circus looms as an unwelcome distraction for the Raiders as they prepare to relaunch their NRL campaign on the road against the Melbourne Storm on Saturday.
Bateman will miss the round three clash as he continues on the comeback trail from shoulder surgery, with his return delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic which meant rehabilitation sessions were few and far between.