Departing Wigan Warriors forward John Bateman expressed his delight after being named the League Express Player of the Year.
The 25-year-old heads Down Under to play for Canberra Raiders next season, after helping Wigan win the Super League Grand Final.
His personal contribution to that Wigan side earned him a place in the 2018 Dream Team, was shortlisted for the Man of Steel and topped off a fine year by being named the Player of the Year in League Express’ annual Readers’ Poll.
The 25-year-old took 43 per cent of the votes, beating St Helens winger and Golden Boot winner Tommy Makinson (28 per cent), Saints prop Luke Thompson (12), Catalans Dragons fullback Tony Gigot (10) and his Warrington counterpart, the Albert Goldthorpe Medal winner Stefan Ratchford (7).
“I would like to give a massive thank you to all the readers who voted,” Bateman told League Express. “Wigan is one of the teams the fans from other clubs love to hate so it’s really good to see that supporters from other teams will vote for a Wigan player.
“It’s been fantastic to play for so many years with Wigan, but when I knew I would be leaving I just decided to play as well as I could in order to leave on a high.
“I’ll be saying my goodbyes for a couple of months until they come out to see me. There will be some tears, but the tears some with joy.
“My mum is behind me and my little girl is looking forward to coming out to Australia to see me. I’m really looking forward to going out there and I can’t wait to meet (Canberra coach) Ricky Stuart.”
Full results of the 2018 League Express Readers’ Poll can be found in this week’s copy of the newspaper available here or check out Total Rugby League during the week as we reveal the winners.