By Sky Sports Rugby League
Last Updated: 22/05/19 2:13pm
John Bateman has his sights set on a swift return to action for Canberra Raiders after revealing he is aiming to be back from a fractured eye socket in just over two weeks’ time.
The England international’s impressive start to life in the NRL was brought to a halt when he suffered the injury in the Raiders’ 30-12 win at home to Penrith Panthers at the start of May.
But having initially been given a recovery time of six weeks, Bateman is hopeful of being ready to play again when Canberra travel to Wests Tigers on Friday, June 7.
“We’ve got Wests Tigers in two weeks’ time, so I think that’s when I’m aiming to come back,” Bateman told Sky Sports.
Canberra Raiders vs North Queensland
May 25, 2019, 6:00am
“It’s either Wests or the Cronulla game (on June 13), so fingers crossed everything goes well and I’ll be back for then.
“It’s been good and the supporters have taken to us massively. They love us and we love them, so it’s like home.
“If you’re playing well they’ll be great to you and that’s what we try to do best.”
Bateman is one of four English players currently making their mark for Canberra, with former Wigan Warriors team-mate Ryan Sutton, Josh Hodgson and Elliott Whitehead all impressing too.
Second row Whitehead, who is in his third season with the Raiders, has earned plenty of admirers in Australia since making the move from Catalans Dragons in particular.
Bateman knows the 29-year-old well from the early days of their respective professional careers at Bradford Bulls, where they both came through the youth set-up, and the chance to play alongside side Whitehead regularly was a big factor in him joining the Raiders.
“I’ve played with him for England since, but when I knew I was going to be playing alongside him again at club level week in week out it was one of the things I really wanted to do,” Bateman said.
“It’s a dream to play with your mates and to do it week in, week out you couldn’t ask for much more. What he’s done in the NRL has been fantastic and he’s one of those players you know week in week out what you’re going to get from him.
“He’s at the top of his game at the moment and I don’t think there are many back-rowers in the world that come close to him.”
All being well, Bateman is likely to be a part of Great Britain’s southern hemisphere tour at the end of the year, having become a firmly established member of Wayne Bennett’s England team.
Being one of the players to pull on the iconic Lions jersey for the first time since 2007 for the Tests against Tonga, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand is a prospect Bateman is relishing, but he knows he must keep up the levels he has performed to so far when he makes his comeback from injury.
“I grew up as a kid watching Great Britain tours, buying DVDs of them and it will be fantastic, if I can get selected for the squad, to pull on the Great Britain shirt,” Bateman said.
“Speaking to the lads, everyone is excited about it and seeing Wayne Bennett the other week in Australia he’s excited about it.
“It’s a fantastic thing to hopefully be involved in, and hopefully I can carry on doing well in the NRL and get that shout.”