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Renouf: Bateman can drive Ricky's Raiders to top four

Gotham City has Batman. Australia's capital city has Bateman.

Yes, I’d have to say John Bateman is Canberra’s caped Raider.

His superhero acts on the footy field are already winning games for Canberra and will be crucial in the run home where his presence should help lift the side into the top four.

Bateman is like no footballer we have seen. He has a box of tricks and plays with his own unique brand of instinctive and tough footy.

A great competitor, he is one of those players that gets his team over the line through sheer willpower.

We’ve already seen the difference Bateman has made to the Raiders on his return from shoulder surgery with two match-winning performances against the Cowboys and Broncos.

In a tight 14-12 win over the Cowboys it was a Bateman overhead pass to Curtis Scott when nothing was on that broke the game open.

Down 8-6 at the break last week against a Broncos team they were expected to beat the Raiders needed some inspiration in attack. Bateman out of nothing shimmied past Brodie Croft.

Titans v Raiders - Round 15

I don’t know how he did it but he just glided on the outside of him  and put George Williams away and Canberra never looked back.

Then there was the Williams kick for Bateman that worked a real treat for a try. The two Wigan boys were in perfect sync.

It is perfect timing for Canberra to have Bateman back.

Defending against him must be so tough. The fictional Batman has mastered more than 100 different martial arts.

The real life Bateman seems to have upwards of 100 different kinds of offloads.

He can get a pass away in traffic like few others and that is always a concern for opposition teams because Canberra have a lot of good attacking guys who can play off the back of it.  

Bateman plays well with Williams and they obviously know each other’s games well after years of lining up for the Wigan Warriors together.

With Josh Hodgson out for the rest of the season, the Raiders need that creative force, and even though he plays in the back row that is what Bateman is.

I played for Wigan for two seasons and one thing I know about the players there is that they will have a go and won’t die wondering. When they come out to Australia they want to show that they are up to it.

They love to attack on the edges and when I was there we had Andy Farrell who liked to do that. I scored a lot of tries off Andy, who was a ball-playing lock.

Andy was a lot bigger than Bateman but I see the similarities in what they create for the players outside them. I’m sure Scott and Nick Cotric are going to get the spoils of what Bateman does.

Bateman beats Croft on the outside then turns it inside to Williams

I played with Ricky Stuart and he has a real footy brain and is the ultra-competitor. I see a lot of Ricky in Bateman. 

When I look at the Raiders I see a mentally tough and competitive side, and that is Ricky Stuart.

They have the strike players, too.

I love the physicality of Jack Wighton and the passing game of Jarrod Croker. How silky were some of Croker’s passes last week with the catch and pass in one motion for Jordan Rapana.

Croker is a great kicker and he is always around the ball. Rapana is really hitting his straps and you can see that Ricky has his team firing and all believing in themselves.

Josh Papalii and Dunamis Lui are leading up front and the signing of Corey Harawira-Naera has given them another attacking injection. How good was he off the bench last week?

While you can’t replace Hodgson the coach has done a good job with the Siliva Havili/Tom Starling combo at dummy half.

I look at Canberra’s draw and there is a real opportunity for them to get ahead of the Roosters and into fourth spot. They play the Titans, Bulldogs, Roosters in Canberra, Dragons, Warriors and Sharks and would fancy winning five of those six games.

After going so close last year to winning the grand final I reckon the Raiders have the big game experience, the belief and the talent to give the title a red-hot crack.

With Bateman driving the Raidermobile they are going to stay right on track.

 

The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARL Commission, NRL clubs or state associations.