George Williams claims he was “kicked out the door” by Canberra after being let go by the Raiders with immediate effect.
Canberra confirmed the shock release of the star English halfback on Tuesday afternoon, after the 26-year-old failed to show up for training that day.
Unable to return home due to COVID-19 since his arrival in late 2019, Williams had been speaking to the club for weeks about his future with his contract due to expire next year.
But he insisted on social media on Tuesday night he had never wanted out with immediate effect, and had always been pushing 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, the Raiders said Williams phoned the club to say he would not be up to playing against the Sydney Roosters on Saturday.
Williams’ partner Charlotte is also pregnant and the couple want to be with family in England when the baby is born.
While recognising the personal struggle Williams is facing, the Raiders finally found the situation untenable.
“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.”
Sam Williams has been named at halfback to play against the Roosters, after regularly being the club’s 18th man in recent years and filling in for Jack Wighton last week.
The Raiders can now use the salary cap space freed up by the remainder of Williams’ contract for the rest of the season, as well as his salary for 2022.
Williams joined the Raiders at the start of 2020 on a three-year deal after the club paid a hefty transfer fee to lure the Wigan Warriors champion.