After 16 months on the sidelines, second row Lyndon Bateman has been forced to concede defeat in his battle to return to action from a knee injury sustained in January 2009.
The 31-year old lock suffered a dislocated patella playing in the Welsh Premiership for Aberavon against Pontypool at the start of last year, and despite his hard work with the Ospreys medical team, he has now decided to retire from professional rugby.
Speaking about the tough decision to call time on his playing days, Bateman said today:
"It's with great sadness that I admit defeat to the injury that has plagued my left knee for the past 16 months. After such a long period of recovery and rehab with no near return in sight, it's now become apparent that I will not be able to make my desired comeback.
"I’m an Ospreylian through and through, and have been here since the start. I've seen many magnificent changes within the organisation to date. Being part of it is a way of life, for my family and me. It will inevitably be hard to move on, and I never fully will, but I shall always be an Osprey, and my ties run deep.
"I'm leaving my dream job, and I'm stepping back into the real world once again. I hope to embrace it like an Osprey, with desire, determination, ability, victory and enjoyment. I'd like to wish the Ospreys all the best for the coming season and the future beyond, and I’m positive it will be filled with victories, trophies and silverware. You can be sure that wherever I am, I will be supporting and rooting for you."
One of the original Ospreys back in the 03/04 season, Bateman made his regional debut against Leinster, in front of a crowd of 2,800 at Donnybrook in September 2003. In total, he clocked up 79 Ospreys appearances, scoring two tries. As well as winning two Celtic League titles in 04/05 and 06/07, Bateman was also part of the Ospreys side that recorded a historic victory over Australia at the Liberty Stadium in November 2006.
His final outing for the region came against Munster in January 2009, but he was at the RDS at the end of May to savour the Ospreys taking the Magners League crown for a record third time.
Speaking about the injury suffered by Bateman, Ospreys Physio Chris Towers explained:
"It was a very traumatic injury at the time. There was soft tissue and bone damage to the patella femoral joint and he had to undergo surgery to address these issues. Despite an initial period of rest and rehab, he encountered some complications which limited his ability to resume training.
"Lyndon went on to have further surgery and various injection therapies, neither of which helped him to turn the corner. It was hoped that with patience and his continued dedication and perseverance the knee would settle down this season, but subsequently, we've hit the cross road where we are now. He has worked tirelessly and always remained completely dedicated, and although the knee has improved, he is still a long way off being able to train and potentially play, which has led to Lyndon arriving at this very difficult decision."
Bateman went on to say his thanks for those who have worked with him during his rugby career, which has seen him represent a number of clubs across the region, which in addition to Aberavon includes Swansea, Neath and Maesteg, while he also played for Llandovery.
"I’d like to thank everyone who has had an input in my rugby career" he said:
"The likes of Harry Young, Colin Rees, Mark Batten, Rowland Phillips, Iestyn Thomas and all at Llandovery RFC, Lyn Jones, Huw Bevan, and of course all the current coaches, staff, and everybody at the Ospreys. I’d also like to thank all the players I have played with along the way, of which there are many, and many have become friends. I’d like to thank the LTI’s for all their continued positive encouragement, which makes a huge difference. I want to thank all the Ospreys players for making it all fun and enjoyable, and I'll sorely miss you all.
"I also want to thank Mike Cuddy and all the directors of the Ospreys for all their continued support past and present. I feel honoured to have worked for and to be cared for by you all, thank you for everything. I wish all my future employers will be as loyal, fair and as supportive as you. Thank you to all the doctors and surgeons along the way who have helped keep me together. A big thank you to all the Ospreys medical staff, especially the physiotherapists who have supported me with all of my niggles. Sorry I let you down this time Chris.
"To the fans, thank you for all the support you give us, without you, the fans, there would be no Ospreys, and we play for you as much as for ourselves. There is no better feeling than running out in front of a full house cheering us on.
"By far my biggest thanks go to my wife though, without her I would’ve been lost. She has had to put up with all baggage associated with being a professional rugby player, and worse still, the extra baggage that comes with being an injured professional rugby player. She got me there, and kept me there, I hope I can repay her.
"One last thing, to the other members of the Ospreys players and staff that are moving on to pastures new. Good luck for the future. I wish you all the best, and I’m sure you’ll be successful. Thank you. I have made great friendships, and have fantastic memories that will last a lifetime.
"I will miss it."