It’s been a strange week for John Bateman and the Raiders. Rumours of Bateman seeking more money and demanding a release from his contract with Canberra has been the hot topic in rugby league as we near the 28 May NRL restart date.
Throw in Bateman having a crack at a journo and a fake tweet story and it has officially become a circus.
Despite the media frenzy, Jack Wighton said it’s business as usual for Bateman and the club as they prepare for their first match back on Saturday night.
“We’re just going about training, he’s going about his business and he’s handling things very well,” Wighton said.
“He’s training and ripping in and doing his part for the team. It feels normal here at the club; it’s outside noise at the moment really.”
Wighton made it clear that the team supported Bateman and suggested that this contract saga was all part and parcel of the business side of the game.
“It’s normal business, we all love Johnny, we love the club and it’s just the way business has to be. We have to worry about playing football and winning games,” said Wighton.
“Johnny’s a great man, he knows the boys love him.
“He’ll make his own decision based on his family and his little girl, that’s who he plays the game for. We’ll leave that up to him and we’ll back every choice he makes, and we’ll back the club’s choices.”
With all the talk of Bateman’s contract, it would be easy to forget the Raiders have a match against the Storm in just four days.
The Raiders travelled to Melbourne twice in 2019 and walked away with two wins. Wighton’s expecting a proud team like the Storm to come out breathing fire.
“We always have confidence in ourselves, but we know it’s going to be the toughest one (match) out of all of them,” said Wighton.
“The Storm don’t want to lose three in a row to any side, so we know they’re going to come out firing. They’re a class side, well drilled, so it’s going to be one of the tougher games.”
The Raiders will play the next seven matches away from Canberra after the NRL revealed their temporary ‘home’ ground will be Campbelltown Stadium in the new NRL schedule.
Wighton said that playing away every week would be a challenge, but was also excited by the thought of playing home games in front of crowds later in the year.
“It’s definitely going to be a challenge travelling every single week. It’s something we’ll adjust to and address it as it comes,” said Wighton.
“We’d love to get through these rounds with as little damage as possible and hopefully the crowds can come back and we can get Canberra fans back at GIO Stadium. That would be the best outcome possible.”