One of the surprise packets of the 2016 Canberra Raiders side, Luke Bateman is a player that has impressed fans and coach Ricky Stuart.
As a result of that, he has been rewarded with a new contract that will see him remain with the green machine until the end of the 2018 season.
On scholarship with the Raiders since the age of 12, Bateman has come through the ranks and worked hard to get to first-grade and play consistently.
Making his NRL debut last season, Bateman has played a total of 14 NRL games to date, most of which have come this season.
In the end, the decision was an easy one for Bateman who praised both the club and the development they have put into him.
â€œIâ€™ve got a great history with the club and the club has been very good to me and my family for a long time. My hearts at the Raiders,â€ Bateman Said.
â€œI love the organisation and Iâ€™m very happy to be staying here.
â€œThis club’s a good club. If you want to make it your home it will take you in and embrace you.â€
The sudden rise to become a regular first-grader came as a bit of a surprise for the young forward, who was playing reserve grade.
With that in mind, though, Bateman is determined to perform well and to continue making the most of the opportunity afforded to him.
â€œI started the year off in reserve grade and definitely didnâ€™t see myself becoming a mainstay of the first-grade team this early in my career,â€ he said.
â€œThe way the team has been going lately, up in the top four and winning games, itâ€™s been very pleasing to be a part of that.
â€œThe buzz around the place is awesome at the moment. We need to keep winning games to end the season in that top four spot. To be playing well and succeeding is a really good feeling. All that hard work we do, to see it pay off, is really pleasing.â€
The Raiders always look to retain their talented home grown talent and Bateman is no different, with club CEO Don Furner praising the young forward and his development.
â€œLuke has been with us since he was 12 so having him re-sign with the club is a huge tick of approval for our junior development and pathways program,â€ Furner said.
â€œWe spend a lot of time and resources on identifying and developing young players and to have them stay with the club after they make it to the NRL is the reward.
â€œWe continue to be one of the leaders when it comes to developing players and itâ€™s great to see Luke remain with us for another two seasons.â€