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Canberra Raiders forward Luke Bateman has announced he’ll depart the Raiders effective immediately, after deciding to take some time away from the game.

After battling a knee injury over the past 12 months and with the changing environment due to COVID-19, Bateman has decided he will step away from the game for a short period until he’s ready to recommence in different circumstances.

Bateman was contracted with the club for the 2020 season but has decided to end that contract early.

He said there were several factors which led him to the decision and did not rule out a return to the game in some capacity in the future.

“It’s been a frustrating period for me with injury and with my contract up at the end of the season and uncertainty about what my future may look like, I’ve decided to finish up with the Raiders and head home and work for a while and get away from footy for a bit,” he said. “I’m not retiring from the game and I hope to play again in the future, but at the moment this is the best decision for me.”

Bateman (Raider #328) debuted with the club in 2015 and played 71 matches for the club. He arrived in Canberra as a junior and has spent nearly half of his life dedicated to the Green Machine.

Raiders Coach Ricky Stuart said Bateman was a true Clubman and someone who would always be a Raider.

“Luke has been a tremendous servant for the club and always gave his best when he was selected to play for the Raiders,” Stuart said. “To play 70 first grade games is a wonderful achievement and Luke will always be a Raider and respected for his achievements.”