BATE D BREATH
Brit star is left to wait in fear
JOHN BATEMAN has opened up on his coronavirus fears after the NRL warned of the dire consequences of suspending the season.
Last weekend’s fixtures were held behind closed doors in Australia in a bid to keep broadcasters happy.
But bosses put the competition on hold indefinitely yesterday after medical experts warned that it was no longer safe for players.
ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys warned: “It’s catastrophic. You can’t understate it, it’s probably the biggest challenge the game will ever face financially.”
It has left players fearing for their futures and has rocked Bateman and the eight other English players in the NRL.
GB star Bateman, 26, who plays for Canberra Raiders, said: “It makes you worry because we’re only human.
“Nobody knows what’s going to happen and we’re all left in limbo which adds to the uncertainty. We’ve all got families and mortgages.”
Bateman’s 10-year-old daughter Millie and five other members of his family were due to fly to Australia to spend Easter with him.
The trip has been cancelled, with Australia shutting its borders, and Bateman said: “It’s scary not knowing when I’m going to see them again.
“I speak to them every day but in times like these you want your family around you. But I realise that other people are losing family members so we’ve just got to cope and get through this.
“It is hard for everyone and it’s important that we do everything we are told by the government to protect people. Lives and people’s health are the most important things.”
Raiders, like most NRL clubs, will meet their players today to outline what will happen in light of the suspension.
V’landys said: “Our pandemic and biosecurity experts said, due to the outbreak, it is no longer safe for our players to play.
“This decision hasn’t been taken lightly. Our experts are very concerned with the rapid rate.
“Rugby league will always survive in some way but I can’t guarantee it will in the same way. We’re ready for the worst.”
NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg added: “While I say it’s a tough day for the game, I know it’s a tough time for everyone across our community.
“All we can do as a sport is remain united and follow the expert advice to keep everyone safe.
“We look at returning as soon as it is safe to do so.”
But Greenberg warned that players will probably face salary cuts as the sport fights to survive.