Canberra will rally around shattered star John Bateman after he was forced into a second round of shoulder surgery on Thursday morning.
Out indefinitely, the 2019 Dally M second rower of the year will go from surgery into isolation under the NRL’s biosecurity protocols, making the recovery process lonelier than usual.
On Thursday, Raiders skipper Jarrod Croker said the tight-knit team would do everything they could to ensure the Englishman was supported through his latest setback.
“We’re in this strange little world at the moment where everyone is only able to be at training or at home or out for any essentials,” he said.
“It’s going to be hard for ‘Batey’ as well, we’ll have good support around him. The boys are all close with each other.
“It’ll be tough, no one likes being injured, and in this difficult period that we’re all in at the moment it’s probably going to be a little bit harder, but the boys will be there for him.”
Bateman had already missed the first three rounds of 2020 following off-season surgery and his latest setback casts yet further doubt on his future in Canberra.
There had already been speculation he would return home to England on a lucrative five-year deal with his old club Wigan, as well as interest from rival NRL club Canterbury.
On Thursday morning coach Ricky Stuart told Triple M he is not concerned Bateman’s contract issues will have a negative impact on their NRL title hopes.
“I’ve got a number of players to worry about,” he said.
“John’s got his issues, I’ve got a number of other players I’ve got to try and get up and play a game of football so I’ll just leave it to John and his manager.”
However, after a stellar 2019 season with the NRL grand finalists, the loss of Bateman will be a blow to their premiership hopes despite their unbeaten start.