Bateman to become fourth English player at Canberra in 2019
Canberra captain Josh Hodgson says new English signing Ryan Bateman ticks every box they are looking for in a player after the Raiders announced they had secured the international star for the next three years.
The Raiders paid Wigan an undisclosed transfer fee for the 24-year-old, who will return to the English Super League to be the Warriors' marquee player in 2022.
Bateman will become the fourth English player on the Raiders' roster along Hodgson, Elliott Whitehead and Wigan prop Ryan Sutton, who had already signed on with the club for next season.
"There's a few of us coming, it looks like we've half taken over," Hodgson joked.
"I spoke to Stick (coach Ricky Stuart) at the start of the year (about signing Bateman), he's a natural competitor no matter where you put him on the field you know he's going to do a job for you.
"He's similar to Elliott in a lot of ways in terms of his work rate and his team-first attitude, he'll do whatever he needs to get the win so he's a great acquisition for us."
Having already secured 12 caps for England, the versatile Bateman can play equally well in the middle third and on the edge which will give the Raiders the flexibility they are looking for in new players.
"I just think because he can play so many different positions for us it's going to help especially when you look at the kind of players we've got at the moment," Hodgson said.
"He's played centre for England and back row and in the middle for Wigan as well.
"So, to have that kind of person in your squad and him being as skillful as he is at just 24, it's an exciting signing for us."
However, the Hull native had a word of warning for Bateman before he packs his bags for pre-season training in the Southern Hemisphere: bring the sunscreen.
"He's got quite pale skin, so the heat will bother him for a while, but he'll so get used to the heat when pre-season comes but he looks after himself and he's a fit kid and he can play and he's tough," Hodgson said.
"I'm not going to lie, even when you get used to the heat it's always tough, especially coming from England.
"I remember my first session I lived across the street and I walked to training in the morning and must have taken me half an hour to do a five-minute walk, it was that much of a shock to the system."
Canberra has been left to play for pride this weekend when they host the Wests Tigers, a team that has been at the epicenter of news in the Telstra Premiership this week.
With speculation surrounding the future of coach Ivan Cleary following Anthony Griffin's exit from Penrith, the Wests Tigers face a must-win game at GIO Stadium if they are to keep their slim finals chances alive.
Hodgson admitted the situation the Tigers players were facing was unique but did not expect them to be distracted come kick-off.
"It's a weird situation, if that was here obviously the players would be talking about it and it would be in the back of your mind," he said.
"But I think come game-day you're just trying to think about getting the win especially with them still chasing the eight.
"I think they'll come out firing, so we're by no means expecting them to be off (their game)."