As the Canberra Raiders prepare to take on the Newcastle Knights on Sunday afternoon at Campbelltown Stadium, the team was dealt a huge blow.
The already-injured English forward John Bateman was expected to make his return for the green machine in a few weeks, but he’s required further surgery on his injured shoulder and his return date is now uncertain.
Raiders captain Jarrod Croker knows how important Bateman is to the squad and believes Raiders fans will see the Englishman play again, but says he’s been impressed with forward Joe Tapine who’s been filling the void.
“It is very disappointing news to hear [about Bateman],” Croker said. “Unfortunately, that’s a part of the game and every side deals with injuries and obviously John’s is a big one for us.
“Joe Tapine has been playing there over the last few weeks and he’s been doing a great job so I’m sure he will be able to fill that hole for us in the meantime. The only news I know is that John’s put on Twitter that he hasn’t played his final game for us and I’m just going to assume that is true.”
No iv not mate ? https://t.co/9WI3VAeToD
— John Bateman (@johnbateman1) June 3, 2020
Halfback George Williams received high praises in the media following his excellent display against the Melbourne Storm in round three; however, the Englishman is not getting ahead of himself as he’s only just getting started.
“Obviously I’ve had some media attention this week and I’ve taken it in my stride and enjoyed the moment, but it’s just one good game and I have to back that up now,” Williams said.
Williams has spent most of his career at Wigan Warriors playing on the left side of the field, but has made the transition to the right side since arriving in the ACT and though the 25-year-old is still getting used to developing combinations, he’s enjoying the learning experience.
“That was something in the back of my mind that I was questioning myself about just because I hadn’t done it before, seeing I played on the left side for so long,” Williams explained.
“It was new to me, but when I got here there was no pressure and it paid off on the weekend and now I’m just trying to improve.
“We have a new edge with me, Taps [Tapine], Scotty [Curtis Scott] and Nicky [Nick Cotric]. We have only had three games together but that last try against the Storm was convincing and it’s showed it working.”
The Raiders have won 13 of their past 17 games away from home as they continue to be a force to be reckoned with away from the nation’s capital.
The Knights are also unbeaten so far this campaign after their fantastic comeback effort to draw 14-all with the Penrith Panthers last time out. They will also be happy to have superstar fullback Kalyn Ponga returning in the fullback position for this weekend’s clash.
One change was made by coach Ricky Stuart for this Sunday’s game. Bailey Simonsson returns on the wing to replace last week’s try scorer Jordan Rapana.
Canberra Raiders round four team list v Newcastle Knights:
1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 2. Bailey Simonsson, 3. Jarrod Croker (C), 4. Curtis Scott, 5. Nick Cotric, 6. Jack Wighton, 7. George Williams, 8. Josh Papalii, 9. Josh Hodgson (C), 10. Dunamis Lui, 11. Joe Tapine, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Corey Horsburgh, 14. Siliva Havili, 15. Emre Guler, 16. Sia Soliola, 17. Jordan Rapana.
18. Tom Starling, 19. Matt Frawley, 20. Kai O’Donnell, 21. Michael Oldfield.
Hudson Young (suspended) – round 6.
John Bateman (shoulder) – unknown.