Ryan Matterson could be headed for the exit door in the off-season as the Wests Tigers try to resolve a frosty relationship between the star forward and coach Michael Maguire.
NRL.com can reveal club officials, including Maguire, recently met with Matterson and his manager to discuss his future at the club.
The meeting came after the Tigers learned a number of rival NRL clubs had received expressions of interest for Matterson’s services, despite the 24-year-old still having two more years to run on his deal at the joint venture.
Matterson has arguably been the Tigers’ best player this season since joining them from the Sydney Roosters, however there has been lingering tension with the hard-nosed coach for a couple of months.
Maguire is renowned as a strict disciplinarian, and his methods often get the best out of players.
However, Matterson is used to a different style of coaching having played under Trent Robinson at the Roosters.
The Tigers, who on Thursday returned to training up until grand final week, have every intention of Matterson seeing out his deal, however the club is bracing itself for the possibility he requests a release in the coming weeks.
Last year the Tigers showed with the way they handled the Ivan Cleary situation they would only release someone from a contract if they were to benefit, which in the case of Cleary came in the form of a six-figure compensation figure.
Matterson is on a deal worth around $350,000 a season at the Tigers, and is likely to attract offers in excess of $500,000 should the current dilemma result in a request for a release.
Several clubs are monitoring the situation. It is understood the Bulldogs have been sounded out about their potential interest from someone close to Matterson, while the Knights have some money to spend given the departure of Jesse Ramien, and potentially Danny Levi and Herman Ese’ese.
Matterson is also a Parramatta junior, and the club is trying to bolster its stocks in the forwards and could pounce.