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John Bateman's Bay: Online petition calls for town to be renamed

You know you've made it in the NRL when you have fans wanting to rename a town after you.

That shows how much of an impact John Bateman has made for the Canberra Raiders, with an online petition calling for Batemans Bay to be called "John Batemans Bay".

Only a little more than a hundred seemingly passionate Raiders fans have signed the online petition to make the Englishman the unofficial mayor of the picturesque town on the South Coast of NSW.

The small groundswell of support for the unusual campaign shows how much of a cult hero the 25-year-old forward has become in the nation's capital in only a month in the Telstra Premiership.

The petition has already caused a few laughs amongst Bateman's teammates.     

"Funnily enough I sent him a photo of that and he started laughing," Sia Soliola said.

"So, if there's a petition with it, I'll sign it as well."

Sam Williams seizing chance at halfback

However, his continued impact on the field and to the culture of the Raiders is no laughing matter as they enter round five in third place after a 3-1 start, which stands in stark contrast to their horror 0-4 record at this time last season.

"It's awesome that somebody like John can come here and make such an impact because he deserves it," Soliola said.

"He's somebody who has made an impact in the community and in our squad which you can see, so he deserves the accolades, but it won’t get to him he's a competitor and that's what he's shown week in and week out and it's rubbed off on the playing group."

But what of Canberra's other Bateman, Luke, who has been a victim of the club's increased forward depth this season, with the 71-game forward for the Raiders playing for Mounties in the Canterbury Cup.  

"I think he might be in the fine print, but Bato's a Queenslander so he might get a town up there," Soliola laughed.

Fellow Canberra newcomer Ryan Sutton said his countryman is taking his form and fame in his stride.

"He's loving it, he wants them to name Canberra after him as well," Sutton joked.

"But he's doing well, and I am happy for him and I knew he would do well because he's one of those players who's a competitor and he wants to play well week in and week out and that's what he's doing."

Why Eels and Raiders are on the up

Canberra have received a boost for their clash with Parramatta on Sunday evening, with the return of Joe Tapine on the bench after recovering from a thumb injury.

Aidan Sezer has been named on the reserves bench as he continues to recover from a strained abdominal muscle.

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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