John Bateman will leave the Canberra Raiders at the end of the NRL season after being released from the final year of his contract.

The England international, 26, has been linked with the likes of the Canterbury Bulldogs and Wigan Warriors, the latter the club he left for the Raiders ahead of the 2019 season.

Bateman, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, thanked the Raiders, who said the forward was seeking other opportunities.

"The Raiders gave me an opportunity to come to Australia and play in the NRL and I've loved every moment playing for the club," he said.

"I'm doing everything I can to make sure I get back on the field as soon as possible and finish my last season with the Raiders on a high."

Raiders chief executive Don Furner paid tribute to Bateman for his contribution to the club.

"The club made the difficult decision to allow John to pursue other long-term options and as a result, 2020 will be his final season with the Raiders," he said.

"We're looking forward to John returning from his shoulder injury soon and finishing his time by helping us make the semi-finals again.

"John was fantastic in 2019, featuring in our first Grand Final appearance since 1994 and winning the Dally M for second rower of the year."

Ahead of facing the St George Illawarra Dragons on Friday, the Raiders are seventh on the ladder.

Bankwest Stadium will host three games in round eight of the NRL season after an inspection was carried out in response to concerns raised over the state of the field.

Sydney Roosters duo Victor Radley and Sam Verrills both suffered serious knee injuries during the first half of their team's 26-12 victory over St George-Illawarra Dragons last Friday.

However, following an independent examination of the playing surface, the venue has been cleared for use.

"We had two really unfortunate season-ending injuries there and no one ever wants to see that," NRL head of football Graham Annesley said.

"The fact they happened so close together did raise questions and the NRL acted quickly. By close of business that night we had organised an independent inspection of the field the next morning.

"That took place and the detailed report we received was an assessment across the field in many different points.

"They took readings for traction, firmness and any other gauge to determine the quality of a professional sporting field.

"All of those readings came back to an acceptable range. The Rugby League Players Association were in attendance for that and they were satisfied."

Annesley also confirmed that plans to replace the field have been moved forward, adding: "They started that process late last night. By the time we get to round eight this week it will effectively be a brand new surface."

Parramatta Eels against North Queensland Cowboys will kick off the action at the ground on Friday. 

Wests Tigers will then take on table-topping Penrith Panthers the following day, while the trio of fixtures at Bankwest Stadium will be completed on Sunday when the Canterbury Bulldogs meet the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Meanwhile, a number of clubs have been granted permission to play at their respective homes again.

Canberra Raiders are to host the Dragons at GIO Stadium, Gold Coast Titans will be back at Cbus Super Stadium for their clash with Cronulla Sharks and Manly Sea Eagles return to Lottoland to take on Newcastle Knights.

Clinton Gutherson stepped up in the absence of the injured Mitchell Moses for Parramatta Eels, sealing a 25-24 victory over Canberra Raiders in a thrilling golden-point finale. 

After Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad's late double forced extra time, Parramatta full-back Gutherson succeeded in slotting through a one-pointer with his third opportunity after Jack Wighton was penalised for a knock-on. 

The responsibility fell to Gutherson after Moses sustained a lower leg injury in the first half on Saturday, a day after Sydney Roosters duo Victor Radley and Sam Verrills suffered ACL damage while playing at the same ground. 

Canberra came from behind to lead into half-time, with Elliott Whitehead touching down after a blatant forward pass from Jarrod Croker in the build-up was missed. 

Ray Stone and Michael Jennings crossed before Maika Sivo scored his 26th NRL try in his 32nd appearance to seemingly put the Eels out of reach, but Nicoll-Klokstad went over twice in as many minutes to keep the Raiders alive. 

However, Gutherson's golden point drop goal ensured Parramatta got the win that sent them back to the top of the standings. 

Brisbane Broncos' dismal form continued as they succumbed to a fifth straight defeat, going down 30-12 to Gold Coast Titans at Suncorp Stadium. 

Brisbane were booed off when they went into the break 22-0 down, with Ash Taylor and Anthony Don, whose second try came after intercepting Tesi Niu's pass while Moeaki Fotuaika was in the sin bin for a professional foul, impressing for the Titans. 

The Broncos lost Matt Lodge to an apparent knee injury and saw Corey Oates yellow carded for verbal dissent in the closing stages, but coach Anthony Seibold insisted he remains the right man for the job. 

Seibold told a post-match news conference: "I'm trying to stay in the present, I've got a five-year deal. I think I'm the right person to bring this group through but if the board think otherwise, or Paul White as CEO thinks otherwise, they'll tell me. 

"I'm not looking over my shoulder. I'll get up and go again in the morning. It's frustrating." 

North Queensland Cowboys ended a three-game losing streak by overcoming Newcastle Knights 32-20 at Queensland Country Bank Stadium. 

Justin O'Neill, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Jake Clifford and Kyle Feldt crossed as the Cowboys scored 26 points without response in the first half. 

Coen Hess responded after Tex Hoy crossed for the Knights, who were unable to get close despite running in a further three tries in the second period. 

Manly Sea Eagles head coach Des Hasler is not very concerned after Australia international Tom Trbojevic suffered a recurrence of a hamstring injury.

Trbojevic scored one try and set up another as the Sea Eagles beat Canberra Raiders 14-6 in the NRL on Sunday.

However, he was forced off in the second half with the same injury he suffered twice last season.

Speaking after the win, Manly's fourth in six games, Hasler said: "It's definitely hamstring, and he'll get a scan tonight and we'll know more about it from the outcome.

"[I'm] not too concerned, earlier in the season might have been a bit more drama but there's still time to go. 

"He's just disappointed, he loves playing footy so that will be the hardest part for him. 

"We'll get him back, he'll be okay."

Manly's injury list was already lengthy before a game that also saw them lose stand-off Dylan Walker and centre Brad Parker just a few minutes into the game.

However, Hasler expects an injury boost for next weekend's game with Cronulla Sharks.

"We get a few back next week which is good," Hasler added.

"We're pretty sure we'll get Marty Taupau back and we'll also get Jorge Taufua as well."

Tom Trbojevic inspired Manly Sea Eagles to a 14-6 victory over Canberra Raiders but added to their injury woes.

The full-back opened the scoring after 13 minutes at Campbelltown Stadium and then fed Tevita Funa for the Sea Eagles' second score shortly before half-time.

Elliott Whitehead crossed nine minutes into the second half to halve the deficit before Trbojevic was forced off with a hamstring injury.

Manly entered the game minus prop Martin Taupau, centre Moses Suli and winger Jorge Taufua and lost stand-off Dylan Walker and centre Brad Parker just minutes into the contest.

Reuben Garrick's penalty made it 14-6 and the Sea Eagles succeeded in preserving that advantage but the injuries made it a pyrrhic win for the Sea Eagles, who have won four of their last five since losing their opener to Melbourne Storm.

Sunday's other game saw Cronulla Sharks claim only their second win of the season, defeating Canterbury Bulldogs 20-18.

Sione Katoa went over for a hat-trick for the Sharks, who added a fourth try through Bryson Goodwin, hanging on despite Christian Crichton's interception try for the Bulldogs setting up a grandstand finish.

Melbourne Storm handed Newcastle Knights their first loss of the 2020 NRL season, while Latrell Mitchell's fine first half led South Sydney Rabbitohs to victory against Gold Coast Titans.

The Storm's 26-12 success against the Knights at Central Coast Stadium means leaders Parramatta Eels are the only remaining undefeated team in NRL this year.

Ryley Jacks went over after just three minutes before Cameron Smith set up first-half tries for Suliasi Vunivalu and Tino Faasuamaleaui - his first in the competition - to send Melbourne into the interval with a commanding 18-2 lead, but the Knights responded well with Bradman Best and Edrick Lee making it a one-score game.

However, Cameron Smith slotted through a penalty after David Klemmer was pinged for an early tackle and Brandon Smith somehow barrelled through three defenders with three minutes remaining to clinch the victory.

In Saturday's first game, the Rabbitohs were 32-12 winners over the Titans at Bankwest Stadium thanks in large part to Mitchell.

The former Sydney Roosters full-back caught the ball and dotted down in the third minute after Damien Cook's pass bounced off his chest to get Souths up and running.

Phillip Sami briefly restored parity before Alex Johnston crossed to restore the Rabbitohs' lead. Mitchell then tipped a pass to Dane Gagai to race in at the corner and saw Anthony Don's failure to gather his grubber kick enable Braidon Burns to put the Bunnies well on top.

The Titans were unable to gain momentum despite Bryce Cartwright's 44th-minute score, with Gagai's second try followed by a conversion from Adam Reynolds, who finished the game with 12 points.

Canberra Raiders got back to winning ways by coming from behind to defeat Wests Tigers 14-6 in Ricky Stuart's 400th game as an NRL coach.

The Raiders were trailing to Luke Brooks' uncovered first-half score, but Jack Wighton's try five minutes following the restart was converted by Jarrod Croker and Nick Cotric dived over after Russell Packer was sent to the sin bin for a professional foul on Jordan Rapana just five minutes after coming on.

Moses Mbye reduced the deficit from the tee but, after Packer was placed on report for a high tackle upon his return, Croker restored Canberra's eight-point cushion as they moved up to second.

Newcastle Knights continued their unbeaten start to the NRL season as Kalyn Ponga and Bradman Best guided them to a 34-18 win over Canberra Raiders.

The Raiders, last season's beaten grand finalists, had made a 100 per cent start to the 2020 campaign.

But Canberra were undone in sublime fashion by full-back Ponga and teenage centre Best at Campbelltown on Sunday.

They each had a hand in all of the Knights' six tries, Best crossing in the second minute and rounding things off in the 80th by doubling his tally. 

Ponga also went over as Newcastle took command with 16 first-half points, Edrick Lee's quickfire brace shortly after half-time effectively putting a one-sided contest beyond doubt.

The day's later game was a much more even affair, as Gold Coast Titans clinched their first win in nearly a year with a dramatic 28-23 victory over Wests Tigers at Suncorp Stadium.

The Tigers looked to be in charge when David Nofoaluma brilliantly plucked a kick out of the air to dot down for his second try, which Benji Marshall converted to make it 22-12.

However, Keegan Hipgrave powered over for his first NRL try and Brian Kelly crossed to level matters and set up a frantic finale.

Marshall's drop goal edged the Tigers in front with three minutes left but, after collecting a short kick-off that barely went the required 10 metres, Gold Coast secured a last-gasp triumph.

Phillip Sami chased down Kelly's kick on the last tackle and touched down to ensure Gold Coast avoided a 15th straight defeat and claimed a first win since June 9, 2019.

John Bateman requires additional surgery to correct a shoulder problem, Canberra Raiders have confirmed.

The 26-year-old England international missed the start of the NRL season after undergoing surgery in February.

No date has been put on his return, but it is hoped he will return to action before the end of the campaign.

"I'm gutted to be having surgery again," Bateman told the club's official website.

"It's what's best for me and the team and to help me get back on the field as soon as possible. I'll be working harder than ever with my rehab to get myself back on the field with the lads."

Last month, Bateman, who was named Dally M Second Rower of the Year in his first campaign in Australia, revealed Canberra gave him the green light to speak to other clubs about a move due to their salary-cap restrictions.

He denied he was looking to engineer a way out, though, saying he was eager to remain in the capital.

Canberra Raiders returned to NRL action with a commanding 22-6 win over Melbourne Storm to maintain their 100 per cent record.

Last year's Grand Final losers got the better of the 2019 minor premiers, earning a third straight victory at the Storm's home ground.

George Williams pulled the strings in assisting tries for Nick Cotric and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, with the Raiders at full throttle following the two-month coronavirus-enforced hiatus. 

Jordan Rapana also got in on the act, with Joseph Tapine's last-gasp try the only score of the second half in Melbourne.

New Zealand Warriors set the bar high in an 18-0 defeat of St George-Illawarra Dragons.

The Warriors completed their first 44 sets in a stunning display, with Jamayne Taunoa-Brown, Eliesa Katoa and Kodi Nikorima touching down at Central Coast Stadium.

It is now three defeats from three for the Dragons, while this was a first win for the Warriors.

Cronulla Sharks are also winless from their opening three games, with Wests Tigers condemning them to a 28-16 loss.

Despite trailing 16-10 at the break, the Tigers ran in 18 unanswered points after the interval.

John Bateman says he has been given permission to talk to other clubs but wants to stay with Canberra Raiders.

England forward Bateman on Friday denied a report that he had requested to be released from his contract with the Raiders after an outstanding debut NRL season.

Bateman, who was named Dally M Second Rower of the Year in his first campaign in Australia, on Saturday revealed Canberra gave him the green light to speak to other clubs due to salary-cap restrictions.

The 26-year-old has denied he is looking to engineer a move, though, and is eager to remain in the capital.

He posted on Twitter: "Like I said yesterday never once have I asked for a release, neither has my management.

"Canberra gave me permission to talk to other clubs months ago because they're tight on the cap next year and nothing for me from 2022 onwards.

"I have a renegotiation clause in my deal for every year, that's why we are working through it.

"I love the Raiders and want to be here. So settle yourselves down and let's get talking about the season starting back up."

Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chairman Peter V'landys feels the NRL should not have stopped as the league prepares to return following the coronavirus outbreak.

Brisbane Broncos and Parramatta Eels will restart the 2020 season behind closed doors on May 28 after the competition was postponed through two rounds on March 23 due to COVID-19.

Coronavirus has wreaked havoc across the world, bringing sport to a standstill, but Australia has managed to control the spread.

And V'landys claims Australia's premier rugby league competition should have continued amid the crisis.

"Racing has proven that you can continue on and if I had my time again, quite frankly, we wouldn't have stopped the rugby league," V'landys told News Corp.

"I don't think we were any risk playing on. If we had implemented the biosecurity measures we have in place now … there was really zero risk to the players or the community.

"There were the challenges in relation to the closure of the borders, but I think we could have got around all that. If there is one regret, maybe we acted too quickly. Maybe we should have waited another week to see the infection rates."

V'landys added: "We're not a very big risk. I think the governments would let us see it through now if there was a second wave, especially with the very harsh biosecurity measures we have implemented.

"We've proven it in racing and not only in NSW but right around Australia. If you have proper biosecurity measures, and participants do the right thing and abide by them, the risk is minimal."

State of Origin will be played in November as the NRL released its full revised draw on Thursday.

The NRL is set to resume its season next week amid the coronavirus pandemic, with the marquee series between Queensland and New South Wales moved.

Origin will be played on November 4, 11 and 18, with venues yet to be finalised, it was announced on Thursday.

"The changes to the schedule this year have allowed Origin to be played after the grand final – which is a first for the game, 40 years after the birth of the country's biggest sporting rivalry," NRL interim chief executive Andrew Abdo said in a statement.

The NRL Grand Final is set to be held on October 25, with the season already reduced to a 20-round schedule.

The season restarts on May 28, when Brisbane Broncos will host Parramatta Eels.

 

Best round three Opta facts:

- Broncos v Eels: Parramatta have won four of their past six games against Brisbane.
- Cowboys v Titans: North Queensland are on a nine-match winning streak against Gold Coast.
- Roosters v Rabbitohs: South Sydney's Campbell Graham has crossed for a try in each of his past three NRL games.
- Warriors v Dragons: New Zealand have lost five of their past six NRL games played in Australia, with the defeats coming by an average margin of 20 points.
- Sharks v Tigers: Wests have lost their past six games against Cronulla.
- Storm v Raiders: These two teams are the only sides yet to concede a try in the first half of a game this season.
- Panthers v Knights: Penrith have won nine of their 12 games without Nathan Cleary, who is suspended, since his debut.
- Sea Eagles v Bulldogs: Canterbury have made 30 errors across their opening two NRL games of the season.

State of Origin will be played in November as the NRL released its full revised draw on Thursday.

The NRL is set to resume its season next week amid the coronavirus pandemic, with the marquee series between Queensland and New South Wales moved.

Origin will be played on November 4, 11 and 18, with venues yet to be finalised, it was announced on Thursday.

"The changes to the schedule this year have allowed Origin to be played after the grand final – which is a first for the game, 40 years after the birth of the country's biggest sporting rivalry," NRL interim chief executive Andrew Abdo said in a statement.

The NRL Grand Final is set to be held on October 25, with the season already reduced to a 20-round schedule.

The season restarts on May 28, when Brisbane Broncos will host Parramatta Eels.

 

Best round three Opta facts:

- Broncos v Eels: Parramatta have won four of their past six games against Brisbane.
- Cowboys v Titans: North Queensland are on a nine-match winning streak against Gold Coast.
- Roosters v Rabbitohs: South Sydney's Campbell Graham has crossed for a try in each of his past three NRL games.
- Warriors v Dragons: New Zealand have lost five of their past six NRL games played in Australia, with the defeats coming by an average margin of 20 points.
- Sharks v Tigers: Wests have lost their past six games against Cronulla.
- Storm v Raiders: These two teams are the only sides yet to concede a try in the first half of a game this season.
- Panthers v Knights: Penrith have won nine of their 12 games without Nathan Cleary, who is suspended, since his debut.
- Sea Eagles v Bulldogs: Canterbury have made 30 errors across their opening two NRL games of the season.

The NRL has announced the six venues that will stage fixtures when the 2020 season resumes at the end of May.

Bankwest Stadium, Campbelltown Stadium and Central Coast Stadium will host fixtures, as well as Suncorp Stadium, Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville and AAMI Park.

The locations have been chosen to host games until at least the end of round nine as the competition prepares to return to action, starting with Brisbane Broncos against Parramatta Eels on May 28.

Action was suspended after two rounds due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"The competition will begin with a consolidated approach to venues," acting NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said.

"Each venue requires customised infrastructure to meet our strict biosecurity requirements. We've adopted a phased approach for venues should restrictions be eased in the future.

"We've chosen three consolidated venues for clubs in and around Sydney to ensure there are no double headers at venues and in different parts of the region to meet the geographical challenges we face."

The Eels will be sharing Bankwest Stadium with Canterbury Bulldogs, South Sydney Rabbitohs, Cronulla Sharks and Sydney Roosters.

Campbelltown is the location for St George Illawarra Dragons, Wests Tigers, Penrith Panthers and Canberra Raiders, while Newcastle Knights and Manly Sea Eagles will play out of Central Coast Stadium, along with the Gosford-based New Zealand Warriors.

Suncorp Stadium will house the Broncos as per usual, as well as Gold Coast Titans. As for North Queensland Cowboys and Melbourne Storm, they will be in the familiar surroundings of Queensland Country Bank Stadium and AAMI Park respectively.

The draw for the remainder of the season will be revealed on Thursday, though home venues will only be allocated until round nine.

Gold Coast Titans star Bryce Cartwright insisted he will not be bullied into receiving the flu vaccination ahead of the NRL's return, responding to the Australian prime minister and backlash.

Australian PM Scott Morrison said players refusing the flu shot should not be allowed to take to the field amid the coronavirus pandemic, with the NRL preparing to resume on May 28.

Cartwright has been criticised for refusing the injection and all eyes were on the Titans second-rower as training returned on Wednesday.

The 25-year-old fired back at anti-vaccination claims via social media, writing: "Not once have I said I am anti-vaccinations. I've never claimed to be a doctor or a medical professional and I have never told anyone what they should or shouldn’t do in regards to vaccinations.

"I stand for the freedom to choose what goes into our bodies, I am pro-choice, pro-informed consent and pro-medical freedom. I have nothing against people who choose to vaccinate... so to label me an 'anti-vaxxer' is spreading misinformation.

"The flu shot is not mandatory in the NRL at the moment. Players have been offered a waiver to sign if we don’t want it.

"Giving us the ultimatum of get the shot or be stood down is coercion, and leaking private medical information, that's illegal.

"As for me being the first and apparently only one declining the shot is bull**** and far from the truth. These are our bodies and we decide what goes in them. I know people in my industry with vaccine injured children and the herd NEVER stuck around for them.

"I won't be bullied into making decisions that could impact my health and the health of my family. Thank you for all the messages to those standing in solidarity, I see you."

Meanwhile, Canberra Raiders trio Sia Soliola, Josh Papalii and Joseph Tapine will resume training on Thursday after refusing to comply with the NRL's flu vaccination policy.

All NRL teams returned to training midweek, but the Raiders erred on the side of caution as they kept Soliola, Papalii and Tapine away on Wednesday.

Raiders chief executive Don Furner told NRL.com: "Clearly the boys want to be back at training. They want to train and we want them there. We're just working through the right protocols with the NRL.

"It's clearly new ground for all of us. This is not a normal year, it's anything but a normal year with some extraordinary circumstances that are coming up but we are getting them back to training today and then we'll await further information and instruction from the NRL."

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