Raiders re-sign Bateman for 2019 season
Canberra Raiders forward Luke Bateman has backed himself to go onto bigger things after re-signing with the club for 2019.
The 23-year-old revealed the club had been trying to secure him as part of a longer-term deal. Instead of taking that security, Bateman chose to keep the pressure on himself by adding just 12 months to his tenure.
"It leaves it up to me if I play good footy and I perform well the contracts get bigger. So rather than falling back into a comfort zone, it puts the onus on me to aim up and play good footy and the rewards will come," Bateman said.
Having already played 58-games for the Raiders, Bateman told his manager not to field any other potential offers from around the NRL.
"I spoke with my manager about it and I only wanted to go one year, I see a lot of improvement in me as I get older, so I didn't want to lock in anything for too long," he said.
"I said to my manager at the start of the year I don't want to go anywhere, and it probably hinders me a little bit telling the Raiders I didn't want to go anywhere.
"Not that I plan on going anywhere in the future."
Bateman was brought into the starting side during Canberra's rocky start to the Telstra Premiership as coach Ricky Stuart tinkered with the side, including the dropping of Josh Papalii to NSW Cup.
However, with Papalii claiming the lock position back again, Bateman has gone on to play solidly off the bench with 99 metres and 11 tackles coming in the win over the Gold Coast Titans on Saturday.
Bateman did admit to being distracted by contract talks when he was away from football.
"It's never nice when you're coming off contract and you don't know where you'll be at in six months, so it is nice to get it done even though it's only for one year," he said.
Sia Soliola said it is a boost for the club to retain Bateman's services given the progress he has shown.
"We made our debut for the Raiders in the same year and I've really seen some positive signs with Luke," Soliola said.
"He's taken leaps and bounds in terms of how he's progressed as a regular first grader."
It is the first domino to fall for the Raiders who still have seven regular first grade players off the books for 2019.
On the field, things are looking brighter for the Raiders as they focus ahead to round 10 when they clash with the Cronulla Sharks at GIO Stadium.
Despite thumping the Gold Coast Titans last weekend, Bateman said the side still had plenty to prove.
"I still thought we were very poor at some stages, we let them [Titans] roll 80 metres a lot so I think we can still improve, but there are good signs," he said.
"I know a lot of people have been saying we haven't beaten anyone, so it will be nice to get out there and perform well against (Cronulla) somebody people consider genuine premiership contenders."