George Williams has disputed claims by the Canberra Raiders that his release by the club “with immediate effect” was a mutual decision between him and the club.
Instead, in an explosive tweet, Williams claims he was “kicked out the door” by Canberra on Tuesday afternoon, after he told the club he would be unable to show up for training that day.
With a pregnant wife, Charlotte, Williams was known to be homesick and they wanted to be in England when their baby is born. But they had been unable to return home because of the COVID-19 pandemic since arriving in the Australian capital in late 2019. With his his contract due to expire in 2022 he had been talking to the club about a release at the end of the season.
But he insisted on Tuesday that he hadn’t wanted to leave the club immediately and that he had still wanted to leave at the end of the year.
“I text to explain my mental wellbeing to the welfare manager?” Williams tweeted.
“I asked for a release weeks ago for the end of the season.
“Not once did I ask for an immediate release but instead of supporting me the club kicked me out the door.”
In a statement issued by the Raiders, they said that Williams had phoned the club to say he would not be able to play against the Sydney Roosters this Saturday.
“George and his partner have asked on a number of occasions for a release to return to England to be closer to their families and we’ve decided to grant their request,” Raiders CEO Don Furner said.
“George withdrew from training today and from the game this weekend, which highlighted to the club the seriousness of George’s request.
“Over the past several weeks we have supported George and provided him with the best welfare support we could. However, as a club we felt that his position at the club moving forward became untenable.”
Williams is now understood to have enlisted the help of the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) following the Raiders’ decision to sever ties with him.
Williams joined the Raiders at the start of 2020 on a three-year deal after the club paid a transfer fee to Wigan.
He played 31 games for the club, scoring 10 tries, kicking 15 goals and two field-goals.
Inevitably there is great interest in obtaining his signature from several Super League clubs, while Newcastle Thunder from the Championship are also thought to be putting together an audacious bid to sign him.