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Your News Bateman relishing being back in the mix
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The play-offs may be upon us again as the Championship season gets down to the serious business, but London Welsh prop Greg Bateman is just pleased to be back in the mix.

The burly prop, who came through the academy set up at Harlequins and joined the Exiles in the summer from Dorking, made his comeback at the tail end of the regular season after three months on the sidelines due to the reoccurrence of a shoulder injury.

Although keen for game time, with the play-offs on the horizon, three games in six days against London Scottish, Doncaster Knights and Leeds Carnegie wasn’t quite what Bateman had in mind, but he and his shoulder came through unscathed and he’s now eagerly looking forward to displaying the form which saw him catch the eye earlier in the season.

“It was a lot of rugby in one week, but you’ve just got to take the opportunity when it’s there,” said Bateman. “The shoulder was fine; it was the rest of me.

“But I was just really pleased to be back in the mix and play some rugby again, because it had been a while.”

Bateman got 56 valuable minutes under his belt against Scottish, 21 minutes in the mid-week win over Doncaster and then a further 51 minutes against Leeds, as well as a try.

His comeback against Scottish on January 29 at the Athletic Ground was his first outing since Welsh’s 17-17 draw with the Cornish Pirates at Old Deer Park on October 29. It was after that game that his shoulder injury flared up again.

“When I went to see the consultant he said it was pretty simple, a six-eight week job. That’s what we were aiming for and that’s what we thought it was going to be,” said Bateman.

“But when he went into the shoulder he said it was a little bit more complicated than we first thought and it was going to be closer to 12 weeks.

“I awake throughout the surgery as they did a nerve block and I could watch it on the screen – it was a really horrible experience.”

It interrupted Bateman’s promising start to his Old Deer Park career, having joined Welsh in the summer from Dorking, where he spent two seasons.

“It’s difficult, but you can either concentrate on being frustrated or you can concentrate on getting bigger and stronger everywhere else and make an impact when you come back,” he added.

A graduate of the academy at Harlequins, his days at The Stoop began when he was 14 or 15 before joining the club’s full academy in June 2007. He would go on to enjoy a loan spell at Rosslyn Park.

“It was really good; it was brilliant to be in a professional environment,” said Bateman, who missed the entire 2009/10 season with Dorking due to an ankle injury, but after a full season under his belt in 2010/11 has had little trouble adjusting to life in the Championship.

“It just takes a while to get yourself back into a position where you can think, ‘right, I want to step up another couple of levels’,” said Bateman.

“It’s been great; it’s a good level to come in at because it’s challenging. But I don’t feel out of my depth.

“I started in and around this level, so it’s not been too much of a surprise. For me, it’s about reminding myself what it’s like to play at this level.

“It’s more of a physical thing; getting my body in shape to play at this level, rather than a mental thing.”

Bateman’s return to Welsh colours helped the Exiles make sure of a fourth place finish, which sees them pooled with Bristol, Doncaster Knights and Saturday’s opponents at Old Deer Park Nottingham.

Having reached the semi-finals the last two years, Bateman is confident that the Exiles can again be a force in the play-offs.

“I think we have the ability to challenge any team, and at the moment it’s about our errors letting other teams into the game,” he said.

“That’s something that Lyn’s [Jones – head coach] been trying to get across to us in the last couple of weeks. It’s certainly something I’ve noticed since I’ve been back.

“It’s the old cliché of taking each game as it comes, and they’re all just as important as each other.

“But you don’t want to lose your first one, as that will put more pressure on the games afterwards. We certainly need to win everything at home.

“Everyone is very positive and people are feeling fresh.”

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