Speculation has been rife in recent weeks that Wigan’s second rower John Bateman is set to move to the NRL and now the man himself has confirmed he is mulling over his options.
Specifically, he has revealed that he has two offers from clubs Down Under on the table and the 24-year-old has a decision to make. In the past, he has stated his desire to test himself against the best the NRL has to offer and his current Wigan contract has a clause which allows him to move Down Under this winter for a set fee.
“I just keep batting it back and forth with Wigan,” Bateman expressed, at pains to outline that the Warriors are his priority at the moment. “It’s massive for me. Like I say, I’m really happy at Wigan. I just want to sit down with all parties and literally get it all out on the table and see what’s what. I’ve got a couple of offers [from NRL clubs] and I’ll probably make a decision in the next month or so. I’ll get this Denver game out of the way first.”
It is believed that the offers the England international has on the table are from Cronulla Sharks and Canberra Raiders, the home of fellow internationals Elliott Whitehead and Josh Hodgson and the 2019 destination for Wigan team mate Ryan Sutton. One thing which is understandably a factor in Bateman’s thinking is the number of players who have come back from Australian adventures after not being huge successes, the likes of Sam Tomkins, Dan Sarginson and Joe Greenwood included. “There’s been a few come back,” said Bateman. “They all say it’s hard but, speaking to them, they enjoyed it over there. It’s a different life, totally different to England. If I was to go over there, it would be a test.”
There isn’t any doubting that the former Bradford Bulls forward is one of the best back-rowers in Super League and many Wigan fans view Bateman as a key player who must be retained for 2019 and beyond. A possible scenario for that would be offering him a marquee player contract, a status currently held by the departing Sam Tomkins which, once his Catalans move is completed, could free up funds to offer the dependable Bateman. Currently in a sticky patch following the announcement that head coach Shaun Wane is also set to leave the club, Bateman is one of few bright sparks at the club currently and his re-signing would be a huge boost for the club.