John Bateman has proved conclusively that he can cut it in the NRL so Canberra playmaker George Williams has nothing but praise for his decision to return to the Super League next season.
Williams reunited with Bateman in the nation's capital this season after four years together at Wigan and said being away from family – particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic – had also been difficult for him.
While disappointed to hear of his teammate's time in the NRL coming to an end, Williams said there should be no questioning Bateman's impact in the southern hemisphere.
"You want to be the best you can be when you come over here and you have to be ready," Williams told NRL.com.
"John proved that last year. He took the league by storm and won Dally M back-rower of the year.
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"It's been a strange time for everyone this year, let alone living on the other side of the world.
"I was even a bit lost when we weren't playing. I felt like I was in Australia for no reason at one point.
"He just thinks it's the right time to go home to his family. He's got his daughter to worry about and good on him for making the call. No one should judge him on that.
"He was one person I really enjoyed playing with at Wigan and I was pleased to be back playing with him in the NRL.
"It's sad obviously but family comes first. Hopefully his injury will come good soon and he can have a strong finish to the year, maybe we can even send him off on a high with a ring."
Williams has enjoyed a solid start to his own NRL career after making the move to Australia in November.
Aside from scoring his first try in the NRL in Friday night's win over the Dragons, the 25-year-old has eight try assists in eight games.
"I'm enjoying testing myself against other players every week and learn something new every day," Williams said.
"The speed of the game is a massive difference and the new rules probably help that but even before then I felt it was a bit quicker to Super League.
"That's no disrespect to Super League, it's a good standard, but we all know the NRL is the pinnacle."
The Raiders were given the weekend off before returning to training on Monday ahead of their rematch with the Storm on Saturday night.
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The Raiders gave up three late tries to the Dragons last weekend but coach Ricky Stuart put the fadeout down to a heavy injury toll and travel requirements over the past month.
"Ricky won't beat around the bush if he thinks we've done something wrong," Williams said.
"That helps me, I'd rather a bit of honesty. Sometimes it's hard to hear but it's going to make me better in the long run and the team.
"We'll probably get a spray about our second-half effort but that's only because he wants us to get better and wants us to win."