Canberra Raiders captain Josh Hodgson and Kirby Smith. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)
Canberra Raiders captain Josh Hodgson and Kirby Smith. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

Raiders’ odd man out raring to go

A virus from his child's Canberra daycare derailed the start of Josh Hodgson's grand final week but he insists he'll have no problem preparing for Sunday's NRL decider.

Hodgson was sidelined from training on Tuesday but he declared he's fully recovered to resume preparations for the Raiders.

The Raiders hooker travelled to Sydney with the team on Wednesday, and was healthy enough to attend the Dally M medal night.

"I'm all good. It was mainly Monday night I felt a bit sick," Hodgson said. "(Tuesday) I was okay, it was more precautionary. I'm all good. It was just a bit of a virus at the kid's day care. I just picked it up from there.

"It's just one of those things that can't be helped. I'm all good to go. I wouldn't be (at the Dally M's) if I wasn't feeling well."

Josh Hodgson had to be photoshopped in to the Raiders' Grand Final picture.
Josh Hodgson had to be photoshopped in to the Raiders' Grand Final picture.

Hodgson will train with Canberra on Thursday before the team have Friday off ahead of Saturday's final captain's run.

His fitness is crucial to Canberra, considering he was easily one of their best in Friday night's preliminary final win over South Sydney.

His performances out of dummy-half saw him nominated for the NRL's Dally M hooker of the year award this week.

He was also one of six Raiders nominated for awards on Wednesday night, along with coach Ricky Stuart.

 

BATEMAN: 'SETTLE DOWN PEOPLE'

Canberra star John Bateman insists headlines about his contract won't be a distraction for the Raiders in NRL grand final week.

Bateman was thrown into the spotlight on Tuesday when it was reported he would consider leaving the Raiders in the off-season if he couldn't secure an upgrade.

The Englishman, who has two years left on his contract, had told NRL.com he would "have to weigh up his options" if the Raiders couldn't improve on his current deal.

The comments drew widespread criticism over the timing, just five days out from Canberra's first grand final in 25 years.

Bateman attempted to calm the storm by tweeting "settle down people I'm looking to extend my contract where I am at" and insisted on Wednesday night he did not believe he would have to leave the Raiders - or that the situation could impact his performance in Sunday's premiership decider.

"I'm not concerned about the distraction … I'm happy to be at Canberra, I want to be at Canberra," Bateman said.

"My family love it when they come over here. One of my best mates is actually moving out in January. It's where I want to be and I can't reiterate that enough.

"The place I want to be is Canberra. My agent will be doing everything to sort it out for me. (Raiders CEO) Don (Furner) and (coach) Ricky (Stuart) will be doing the exact same."

Bateman again proved his worth on Wednesday night, claiming the Dally M second-rower of the year award in his first season in the NRL.

He's been both tough and crafty playing on the edge, and has made the third most one-on-one tackles in the competition.

His breakthrough NRL campaign comes after many rugby league fans barely knew of Bateman and his success in the English Super League at Wigan.

Now, he has easily been the buy of the season. "I never expected that (award) when I got out here in January," Bateman said. "It's totally down to the players that I play with. Yes it's an individual award, but it's a team sport."