John Bateman coy on future with Wigan Warriors amid NRL links

RUMOURS linking Wigan’s John Bateman with a return to the NRL are gathering pace – and the star second rower has done little to allay Warriors fans’ fears of losing him.

New Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens is said to have made the England star, who previously played for Canberra Raiders, a top target.

A move to Wests would mean a reunion with Wigan old boy Jackson Hastings, who is set to take the loose-forward berth under Sheens, the veteran team chief tasked with improving a side who haven’t made the play-offs since 2011 and finished bottom this year.

Bradford product Bateman, 29, played for Wigan from 2014 until 2018 and returned after two years at Canberra, saying he wanted to be closer to his UK-based daughter (he also has a daughter with his Australian partner).

The 2019 Dally M second rower of the year signed a contract to 2024, with the option of a further year.

That means Wests would have to pay a transfer fee to secure the two-time Super League title winner, who also helped Wigan win this year’s Challenge Cup and the 2017 World Club Challenge.

Quizzed about the situation during the build-up to England’s World Cup semi-final clash with New Zealand, Bateman said: “I’ve got a contract at Wigan and rumours are rumours, but it’s always good to be liked.

“I’ll sort out what I need to sort out after the World Cup and the decision will come then.”

Bateman, reunited with his old Wigan coach Shaun Wane in the England camp, admits it took him some time to re-adjust to Super League.

“It was a tough start for me. I expected to be playing similar to when I left and probably wasn’t,” he added.

“I struggled a little bit and was just getting used to being back home. But I’m finding a bit of form and am enjoying my rugby again.”

Current Wigan coach Matt Peet has other second-row options in Liam Farrell, Willie Isa and Kai Pearce-Paul.