Shock surgery rocks Canberra Raiders NRL title bid
Canberra star John Bateman has been ruled out indefinitely with the English international booked in for corrective surgery on his troublesome shoulder.
In a massive blow for the NRL premiership favourites, Bateman's frustrating season has taken another shock twist with the 26-year-old set to undergo surgery on Thursday.
The agonising decision was made after the 2019 Dally M second-rower of the year met with specialists on Wednesday.
"I'm gutted to be having surgery again but it's what's best for me and the team and to help me get back on the field as soon as possible," Bateman said.
"I'll be working harder than ever with my rehab to get myself back on the field with the lads."
It will be Bateman's second operation in four months and is a result of increasing frustration over the prolonged rehabilitation process he has endured after first undergoing surgery last February.
Bateman is determined to get the shoulder right and despite the prospect of more time on the sidelines, he is willing to have further surgery to correct the issue.
Doctors have told Bateman he will make a full recovery.
Bateman, who is on the verge of signing a $3.5 million five-year deal with Wigan in the UK Super League, will receive a more accurate timeline for his recovery and a potential return to play date after surgeons operate on Thursday.
Ultimately, how long the 16-Test hardman is sidelined for following surgery is dependent on his next phase of recovery and rehabilitation.
Undeniably Bateman's unavailability - given his wealth of experience, ability to routinely break the opposition defensive line and fierce tackling technique - is a monumental shock to the Raiders' premiership campaign.
Canberra are the $5 favourites to win this year's title with the TAB, ahead of Melbourne, Parramatta and the Roosters ($6).
However, Canberra have proven they can win without the influential backrower - as proven against title heavyweights Melbourne last weekend.
The Canberra playing group have also shown they boast the mental fortitude to handle significant off-field distractions, as has been the case with the almost daily headlines linked to Bateman's ongoing contract saga.
Young forwards Joseph Tapine, Corey Horsburgh and Emre Guhler have repaid the faith of their coach, Ricky Stuart, by impressing in the absence of Bateman.
And in a season where the depth of every NRL squad is paramount, Raiders forward Hudson Young is nearing his comeback. He is just two further games away from being available for selection following an eight-game suspension metered out last year.
Bateman originally underwent shoulder surgery which he carried through last year's representative season with the Great Britain Lions in February.
When the shoulder injury was first diagnosed, Bateman was scheduled to be out until round eight of the original 2020 season draw, which was previously slated for May 1.
Last week he said he hoped to return for next week's clash against Wests Tigers.
"I had an injection last week to settle a little bit of what was going on in my shoulder down, that takes roughly around 10 to 14 days, once that settles down I'll start doing my contact," Bateman told Sky Sports.
"So roughly about two to three weeks, not far off now, it's getting closer and closer which I'm pretty pleased about.
"So yeah roughly around that (round five). I don't want to rush myself I've done the hard work now, so I don't really want to rush into pushing myself, so I'll take it nice and slowly and so when I'm ready I'll be ready."
Originally published as Shock surgery rocks Raiders title bid