Ryan Matterson has apologised to Wests Tigers fans two months after his ugly exit from the joint-venture delivered him back to his junior club Parramatta.
Matterson spoke for the first time in Eels colours on Monday after returning to the Blue & Gold last November, cutting short his Tigers tenure less than 12 months into a three-year deal.
The NSW Origin hopeful says he remains on good terms with his former teammates and coach Michael Maguire, whose coaching methods are understood to have been a factor in Matterson wanting out of Concord.
He denied money drove his shift to Parramatta, which is believed to be netting him around $200,000 extra a year if he takes up a 2022 option in his favour.
Matterson is understood to still be in contact with the likes of Benji Marshall and childhood friend Alex Twal, though other Tigers are believed to still feel let down by his walk out.
Matterson: Eels move not about moneyMatterson: Eels move not about money
Matterson: Eels move not about money
The 25-year-old acknowledged the Tigers faithful had reason to feel aggrieved by his drawn-out departure.
“To all the fans out there I’m sorry for how it happened,” Matterson said.
"I was frustrated myself [with the saga’s unfolding]. I signed wanting to hold onto a contract. I’m not leaving in a frustrated manner, because [in] the 2019 season I played my best football every single game for the Tigers.
"I do say sorry to them and I understand their frustrations but it was kind of out of my control.
I don’t sign contracts to purposefully want to leave.
"I don’t sign contracts to purposefully want to leave. Something did happen at the Tigers, and I’m sorry that happened so with the intention of signing with Parramatta, I do want to stay here permanently and long-term and really enjoy my football.
"I was frustrated when it was perceived [to be] about money. It wasn’t. That just wasn’t the case.
“When people want to be making rumours about things I can’t really control that. All I can control is, as I said it was a personal matter between myself and the club so I’m going to respect that, so I want to hold my side of the bargain.”
Matterson can expect a frosty reception from Tigers fans at Bankwest Stadium on Easter Monday when he first takes on his old side.
He doesn’t anticipate any extra feeling from his former teammates before what is likely to be a capacity crowd.
“They’re all good fellas. Everyone in rugby league are good dudes,” he said.
“No one really hates each other off the field. If everyone had the same shirt on out there we’d be cuddling but because we’ve got different jerseys we’re tackling them.”
In the same vein, he said he had no issues with Robbie Farah’s criticism of him last year, when the Tigers legend said Matterson had been “quite poor” in handling himself and had been motivated by money.
“I heard it in passing,” Matterson said.
"That’s his opinion and I respect him as a bloke.
“I think most of his chat when I had already left, I haven’t seen him or spoken to him since.”
Farah has his say on Matterson’s futureFarah has his say on Matterson’s future
Farah has his say on Matterson’s future
Matterson first came through the Eels junior ranks and captained their under-20 side in 2014 before joining the Roosters two years later.
He admitted to being at odds with Arthur during his first stint at the club when the coach wanted to shift him into the forwards from halfback, but has bought into his vision second time round.
“I sat down with BA and we just had a really honest chat,” Matterson said.
"Previously we’ve been together and from that chat I realised the club itself has grown massively.
"It’s a big opportunity for myself and all the players here to really create history and I really wanted to get on board with that.
"The way it worked out last time Kieran Foran had signed and I was a young fella coming through, still playing in the halves so it was a whole different circumstance.
“At the time I was pretty reluctant. I wanted to be in the halves, I still had a little bit more to offer. Then a couple of years that’s when I moved into the halves.”
Tonight 9 news Matterson reveals why the Tigers were no good for him .
Should be good motivational viewing for WT.
If I was @happy_tiger ‘s I’d egg his tv
I thought we were watching it at @Geo from his egg chairs
As much as many hate him with a passion , he will still be a big lose in 2020
Add him to our signings and we would have been a genuine Top 5 side
Keep talking up the Eels…
I watched the vid on nrl.com …might be a good player but can’t lie straight in bed…wants the easier way…flog…
What an absolute piece of work that guy is. Unless I missed it, he said it wasnt money that made him leave, and that he was misunderstood, but he still didnt give a reason for him leaving apart from saying it was out of his control.
Apology not accepted Matterson, but i for one won’t waste any time lamenting over you mate. Enjoy the slimy Eels, hope you find whatever it was you were looking for, and not at our club ever again.