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Bateman bolts back from UK for early return against Dogs

Canberra have received a massive boost for their clash with the Bulldogs, with star back-rower John Bateman named to return early from a surgically repaired cheekbone.

Bateman has been recuperating in England after reeling out of a tackle against Penrith in Wagga in round eight.

The English star's absence has been one of many for the Green Machine as they now enter a State of Origin period missing three players for the first time in years.

Canberra coach Ricky Stuart said Bateman's early return speaks volumes about Bateman's character and is looking forward to the return of his team's spark-plug.

"Johnny rang me from England after the game on Sunday night and said 'I'll be right to play'," Stuart said.

"He's a really good team man and sees we're struggling in terms of depth and I didn't think much of it to be quite honest.

"Fortunately for us he's cleared to play. He's been a really big boost to the club ever since he got here, his energy and enthusiasm around the team and around training, it's a great lift to the guys.

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"It takes a special sort of person to inspire people and he does that, so it's a good bit of energy for us today."

Stuart confirmed Bateman will start the game but did not elaborate if he will play on the edge or in the number 13.

Bateman's return will have a flow on affect, with Joe Tapine's game time also to be affected as he continues his return from an ankle injury.

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"Taps takes a little time to find his game energy and that'll be part of how I balance the team and the bench," Stuart said.

"The more games Joey plays the quicker back to match fitness, because he plays with a lot of energy and it takes him a month or so to get back into the swing of things."

With Jack Wighton away on Origin duty for the Blues, the performances of Sam Williams and the returning Aidan Sezer on Saturday likely determine who wears the number seven against the Wests Tigers in round 13.

"They're both good football players and they understand the situation," Stuart said of Williams and Sezer.

"Jack will come back next week and this weekend will be a big indicator as to who's going to be the half next week."

Despite the Bulldogs' low position on the ladder, clashes between the Raiders and Canterbury have traditionally been torrid affairs and Stuart does not expect any different as he comes up against a familiar face once again.

"Canterbury is always a difficult challenge for us and (Bulldogs coach) Dean (Pay) knows us very well," he said.

"So, he'll know exactly how we are motivated given the situation we're in, he'll know how we are preparing and there'll be nothing hidden. That's why I'm coming out now and telling you exactly what I am doing with our team."

Acknowledgement of Country

Canberra Raiders respect and honour 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.