John Bateman scoring a try
John Bateman is closing in on a return to full training following surgery on his shoulder. Getty

Raiders star second-rower John Bateman is close to resuming full contact training with the squad as he recovers from a serious shoulder injury.

After a stellar first season in the NRL last year, the 2019 Dally M second-rower of the year was forced to undergo shoulder surgery in the off season, delaying his start to the 2020 season.

The league shutdown due to COVID-19 meant that Bateman only missed the first two matches to start this year but concedes he’s still not certain about being fully fit come the 28 May restart.

“Yeah, pretty unsure. I had the specialist last week, went through a few things with me. Just waiting to see how it goes,” Bateman said.

“I had an injection last week. So hopefully that settles down and I’ll be able to get some full contact training in.”

The Raiders covered Bateman’s absence well in the first two rounds, with Joe Tapine playing more minutes on an edge, and Corey Horsburgh getting extra time through the middle.

The potential inclusion of Bateman and new recruit Jordan Rapana into the Raiders side has created extra depth in the squad, and Bateman says it’s great to have Rapana back.

“He’s a big character for the team. Just around the joint, it’s fantastic to have him back, cracking jokes around the place.

“Also on the field, there’s competition for places now. People aren’t comfortable in their position so it pushes people to play their best.

“We’ve got a great squad now, and that’s what we’ve been looking for the past couple of years. So, I think that’s what will push us to go that one extra.”

Rocking a sweet Raiders bucket hat, Bateman also said training at the new Braddon facility had more perks than just brand-new equipment.

Some tradies next-door playing the ‘bad and mean green machine’ song provided some laughs for the boys.

“When we had training last week they were playing it, and a few of the boys were singing along,” Bateman said.

“The construction workers were singing and dancing, it’s a good laugh. It’s good to be training here now, it’s a good facility and it’s good to be out on the field.”

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