Raiders back-rower John Bateman will undergo another round of shoulder surgery that will sideline the English star indefinitely.
Bateman’s recovery from an off-season shoulder operation took a frustrating turn on Wednesday with specialists advising him that he will have to go under the knife again before returning to the paddock.
The 26-year-old forward had been expected to make his NRL return in coming weeks having been rehabbing the injury since February.
He had been slated for a two-month lay-off after that initial surgery, but COVID-19 restrictions delayed his recovery.
No timeline has been given for Bateman’s return, with a better idea of how long he is out to come after Thursday’s operation.
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"I'm gutted to be having surgery again but it's what's best for me and the team and to help me get back on the field as soon as possible," Bateman said in a Raiders statement.
“I'll be working harder than ever with my rehab to get myself back on the field with the lads. See you all soon."
His absence is an undoubted blow for the high-flying Raiders given an impressive first season at the club in which he claimed the 2019 Dally M second-rower of the year award.
Bateman’s long-term future has also been clouded, with Canberra reluctantly giving him permission to negotiate with NRL rivals given they can’t afford the contract upgrade he is chasing.
A return to his former Super League club Wigan on a lucrative five-year deal has been mooted in recent days for 2021.
When Bateman left the Warriors to join Canberra at the end of 2019, he and the English outfit had a loose agreement that they would have first crack at him should he look to return to the UK.
NRL rivals including Canterbury, St George Illawarra and the Gold Coast are among his suitors in Australia but a return to his home country would reunite Bateman with his family and young daughter Millie.